MAD DOG: Death, Politics and None of the Above

It's never too soon to start thinking about the next presidential election. After all, no matter how much trouble Clinton gets himself into he won't be able to run -- the Founding Fathers assured this when they declared that no one in their right mind could stand more than 8 years in office. This means we need to start looking for someone who can serve our country by keeping the economy on course, handling touchy foreign policy, and supplying us with plenty of material for late night TV monologues.The Democrats appear to have it easy. After all, an incumbent vice-president has traditionally been a shoo-in for the candidacy. Well, unless your last name is Quayle. Yet some people wonder whether Al Gore is a good choice. After all, the question keeps arising whether he's really alive.Who cares? The Constitution says the President has to be a natural-born citizen over the age of thirty-five and must have been a resident for at least fourteen years, it doesn't say he has to have a pulse.This recently worked to Jacquelyn Ledgerwood's advantage. Even though she's not running for president, she did manage to capture 21 percent of the vote in the Oklahoma Democratic Senate primary this past August despite the fact that she died six weeks before the election. This second place win secured her a slot in the runoff, which means she might yet get to run against Republican incumbent Wes Watkins, who is at a marked disadvantage by being alive.If Ledgerwood should win the Senate seat, she wouldn't be the only dead person currently in public office. North Korea (motto: "The other Korea") just changed its constitution to make Kim Il Sung the country's "eternal president." The fact that he's been dead for four years isn't considered a deterrent since North Korea has been running fine without a president since his death. Obviously he couldn't thank them personally, so the Supreme People's Assembly listened to a tape recording of a speech the new eternal president gave in 1990. Really."But this could never happen here," you're saying. "We've never even heard of Kim Il Sung." Well, it's not as far fetched as you might think. After all, civics is a dying subject in this country. A recent survey showed that more teenagers could name the Three Stooges than the three branches of government. (Correct answer: taxation, scandal, and waste.)In Nevada, voters keep coming dangerously close to electing "None of these candidates" to office. And why shouldn't they? If gambling and prostitution are legal there, why can't they buck the odds and elect someone who isn't a whore?Nevada, you see, is the only state in the country which puts "None of these candidates" on the ballot. In the recent primary, Candidate None (Official Campaign Song: "Nowhere Man") beat out 17 of the 33 real candidates. And None isn't even dead by traditional North Korean standards.But before you start worrying about None actually taking office, Nevada law says None can't actually win an election. This isn't fair. If the voters prefer no one, who is the state legislature to deny them? I guess they're worried because it's actually come close. In the 1980 presidential primary "None of these candidates" beat out both George Bush and Ted Kennedy.This shows that here in the United States anyone except "no one" can grow up to be president, though a survey found that 60% of parents think being president is a bad career choice. In Peru, on the other hand, it's not so easy to get elected. Especially if you change your sex.An election board there recently refused to let Fulvia Celica run for mayor in Lima. Celica, a transsexual clairvoyant with her own TV show, claims it's prejudice. The election board says it's because only 135 of the 2,800 signatures she got were valid.The truth is, if Celica's half the clairvoyant she says she is she would have seen it coming. She does predict, however, that she won't give up her bid for public office and plans to run for Congress in 2000. Or possibly die and win a seat in North Korea.We really need to renew out faith in public office in this country so people will stop voting for dead candidates. Or no candidates. The Clinton-Lewinsky scandal has made us more leery than ever of politicians. We need candidates who can instill a sense of pride and dignity to the office. You know, like actors.What brings this to mind is that there's been talk recently of Candice Bergen joining 60 Minutes as a correspondent. And why not? She played a reporter on TV long enough to know how it works. Think about it. Ronald Reagan played president and we had so much fun eating popcorn and making out in the back row that we elected him to a double feature. Clint Eastwood, Fred Grandy, and Sonny Bono all did stints in office.This is a great idea because we already know how they'll be as president -- we've seen them do it. So as the next election rolls around, instead of voting for "None of the candidates" or one who has already been elected to that Great Legislature in the Sky, go to the video store and rent Air Force One, Dave, and Primary Colors. Then go to the polls and write in Harrison Ford, Kevin Kline, or John Travolta. At least they're still alive.


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