The 2012 presidential election has already become a media circus. The Republicans have debated each other roughly once a day for the past seven years, and the actual voting doesn’t take place for another eleven months. The frontrunner seems to change every time someone opens his or her mouth long enough to embarrass him or herself and fall out of the lead. The public is fascinated with the personalities and the drama of the race far more than the actual political implications. It is almost like a reality show, which is why I propose we do away with the façade of dignity and start producing America’s Next Top President.
The cast of characters is in place. We’ve got the handsome guy (Mitt Romney), the somewhat attractive but high-strung lady (Michele Bachmann), the racist (Rick Perry), the black guy (Herman Cain, gone from the race but still in our hearts), and the wildcard (Ron Paul). Plus there’s an effeminate dude (Marcus Bachmann), his natural foil/ love interest (Rick Santorum) and a generic guy who will get eliminated in the first round (Jon Huntsman).
On Bravo’s America’s Next Top President, the candidates will complete a series of challenges with the goal of obtaining the Republican Party’s nomination and squaring off against defending Top President, Barack Obama. There will be alliances, immunities, betrayals, scandals, feuds, and all the other mainstays of reality programming. Even in spite of the public’s general apathy towards the political system, the show is sure to be a hit.
It seems as if magic always happens when these candidates get in front of a camera. So let’s get them on video 24/7, Real World style. Put them all in a house. Even better, put them all in the White House. One by one, contestidates (pretty great word, right?) get “impeached,” and have to return to their home states until only America’s Next Top President remains. What better way to get the public invested in politics than to remove all the boring “issues” and replace them with far more interesting “obstacle courses” and “tribal councils”? The ratings are sure to be through the roof.
There are, I confess, a few impediments to this plan. First of all, a lot of these candidates are pretty old. Every one of them, unfortunately, is over 40, which will make it difficult to capture that coveted 18-35 year-old demographic. Never fear, sponsors! I have a few quick remedies. For all of the challenges (making a runway dress out of an American flag, spotting illegal immigrants in Arizona, defending corporate personhood), each candidate would have a celebrity guest mentor. For example, during the national anthem singing contest in Week 1, Bruno Mars would give Ron Paul some tips on vocal technique while Ke$ha would serve as Mitt Romney’s “swag coach,” giving him advice on loosening up and really working it onstage. But wait, there’s more! Guest Judges Tim Gunn and Simon Cowell! Who wouldn’t tune in for that?
And picture this:
Week 8, the competition is heating up. The contestidates are facing possibly the greatest challenge of all. Not the recession. Not the safe withdrawal of troops from Iraq. Not addressing the demands of the Occupy movement. A pie-eating contest. Apple, obviously. Right in front of the Liberty Bell. What’s more American than that? Overeating while ignoring larger problems, I mean.
Romney taps out early after a dollop of whipped cream penetrates his otherwise-perfect hair, but he had gained immunity the week before, so it’s no big deal. It’s down to Michele Bachmann and Rick Santorum. Santorum eats his way to an early lead, but Michele stages a comeback. Her husband Marcus sits by her side wearing a leather vest with no shirt underneath and helps her “pray away the pie.” Michele comes within one bite of victory, but she knows that if she eats it, the seams of her pants will burst. She has a tough decision to make. Santorum, however, demands that she forfeit, on the grounds that he doesn’t support a woman’s right to choose. Bachmann, defeated, lays her fork across the table.
All of a sudden, Tom Petty’s “American Girl” begins to blare over the loudspeakers. Wolf Blitzer, the announcer for the event, freaks out.
“But that’s… Sarah Palin’s music!”
It is! Sarah Palin drops out of the sky on an American Flag parachute. She picks up the final forkful of pie and crams it down Bachmann’s throat.
“Mama Grizzlies stick together,” Palin says. “You’re finished, Santorum. Go back to Pennsylvania.”
“Actually, Mrs. Palin, this is Pennsylvania,” Blitzer interjects.
“Can it, Blitzer. Michele and I can’t be stopped. We crushed Santorum, and next week we’re coming for you, Romney. You’re next, President Obama. Steel cage match on the Senate floor.”
She fires a shotgun into the air. Wolf Blitzer cowers beneath a table.
Ratings would be bonkers. Sponsors would trample each other trying to buy advertising. The public would finally show some interest in politics. The only foreseeable side effects are the total lack of respect that America would command on the global stage and the likeliness of provoking some sort of nuclear or environmental doomsday scenario.
But all’s fair in love, war, and reality TV.