Opinion Columns & Blogs

Tossing political hot potatoes

Suzanne Davis
Suzanne Davis

My husband and I recently enjoyed an exciting evening at home, wherein we ate “dinner” in front of the TV and enjoyed a marathon viewing of our favorite political drama.

Mick was ensconced in the recliner with an odoriferous plate of food involving garlic stuffed olives and pickled herring, and I stood at the kitchen sink laboring over a potato to nuke in the microwave. Might I say, it was not a spectacular specimen. The conversation went something like this:

Me: Dammit! Rats! I paid good money for this.

Mick: Are you talking to a potato?

Me: Yes, you have a problem with that?

Mick: No, I was just imagining life 10 years down the road.

I turned his way, thought briefly about chucking the potato at his head, and then paused to reflect upon age, and of course, politics.

Life after 60 is interesting. Hillary Clinton is contemplating a run for the presidency, and I’m talking to potatoes and wondering how long I can postpone a run to the grocery store. Much has been written about how old is too old to run for office, but I think the real question is not whether one talks to potatoes, but whether the candidate, no matter the age, is smarter than one. So, my fellow Americans, today I’d like to discuss how we can improve our political system and guarantee that we have qualified candidates, regardless of age.

First, I propose a type of political IQ test to determine one’s rating on the “Are You Smarter than a Starchy Vegetable?” scale (a few current politicians might have to be grandfathered in). I am happy to volunteer to help write the exam, but I want to say at the outset that I’m absolutely opposed to any evaluations of physical strength. Just imagine how many candidates over the age of 60 might be eliminated because they can’t open a jar of pickles.

Age notwithstanding, it amazes me that anyone would want to be in politics these days. As I write this, Eric Cantor just got slammed by a Tea Party upstart, Chris Christie is trying to reclaim his pre-George Washington Bridge mojo, the “Draft Mitt” campaign is picking up steam, Hillary is on the prowl with her new book, and a rutabaga has more savvy than some members of Congress.

Honestly, maybe it’s time to revert to our British roots and adopt a monarchy, which is my second idea. Think about all that could be accomplished by royal proclamation! We could tweak the system a bit and vote on a new royal family every four years or so. I like the idea of horse-drawn carriages and just eighty-sixing the whole Congress thing.

Although, I think we’d have to draw the line at allowing anyone to be queen or king who has children of marriageable age. Royal weddings are so expensive.

If the return to the royals or competency tests don’t fly, I still think we need to consider serious campaign finance reform. I’d like to see elections work the way the “Houston, we have a problem” scene in Apollo 13 went down. Remember when the astronauts saved themselves with just baling wire and duct tape (or something along those lines)?

Innovation got the job done — a mission accomplished of sorts. I propose campaigns operate under those same parameters: dump some Sharpies, construction paper, scissors, and a bunch of Reese’s Peanut Cups in the center of a table, and let those campaign committees have at it. Local candidates would be allotted $353 in discretionary funds and 17 minutes of public access TV advertising. National candidates would have all of the aforementioned plus a 2002 Dell Inspiron laptop. All candidates would be provided unlimited balls of string, baling wire and 15 rolls of colored duct tape — plus unfettered access to WalMart dumpsters. Consider it national campaigning on an education budget.

Eventually I sat down with my political muse and Mick to watch Washington intrigue on TV. Mind you, I have nothing but admiration for Type A people of any age, but I wonder whether they’ve ever considered how satisfying life can be talking to vegetables with no agenda? Food for thought.

Suzanne Davis is happily retired and living in the South County with her husband and their three dogs. Email her at suzdavis489@yahoo.com.