The Library Basement
Reading under ground

Let's simplify US Presidential politics

Mr. Erick Erickson riffs on "it's the economy, stupid":

The way forward for Romney depends on the economy. For the longest time I did not think he had much of a shot against the President, but as I’ve said several times recently, the economy seems to be struggling, which gives Romney an opening.

It's conventional wisdom now: if the economy is going good, the incumbent wins. I think that is really shorthand for the fact that US Presidential elections are controlled by forces which are much bigger than the particular candidates. The economy is the greatest of those forces, but there are other factors. I think we as politically ideological Americans feel somewhat embarrassed about this maxim. We don't think our highest office should be decided on a single factor, especially one which seems so materialistic compared with the pure ideals of our nation. But we all know it is true, and these forces make the whole primary and general elections campaigns feel pointless and silly.

Therefore I am proposing that the electoral college be replaced with an index of economic indicators. Both the position and the trend of each element would be accounted for. Here is my preliminary list:

  • Unemployment rate
  • Price of crude oil
  • New construction starts
  • Inflation
  • The prime rate

No more fuss. Just get down to brass tacks and use empirical data to guide our politics. We could actually forgo an election unless the indicators determine that the incumbent should lose, saving the country billions. Anyone else in favor?