The move by a group of Democrats to draft Lee Iacocca to run for the presidency prompts this question: Have our presidential elections deteriorated into popularity contests? Not to demean Iacocca’s ability (he could not be any worse than our present incumbent), but he does not have the background to be a great President, and God knows, we need one.
Going back to Dwight D. Eisenhower, who was wooed by both parties, we found that the role popularity plays was evident, as he defeated the brilliant Adlai Stevenson. Candidates like George McGovern and Walter Mondale had no chance. They lacked “charisma.” As a consequence, coupled with drawn-out and costly campaigns, men of substance are discouraged from running for the highest office. That is why we have a Ronald Reagan, a man of shallow scholarship and dubious instincts, but popular in office.
The answer, as I see, it is to shorten campaigning to weeks, not months. But more important, eliminate the massive spending.
Much worse, the money has a detrimental effect on government, as elected officials defer to their big donors, compromising their real intentions and costing taxpayers huge sums as they play their game of favoritism. The fear of offending contributors, no matter how fanatic, must have a dampening effect on our legislators.
The media, including and especially television, can help by providing free access to the candidates. No more 30-second political “junk-food” ads. England manages to do it swiftly and cheaply.