Thursday, September 14, 2006

Project Delegate

We had major problems with elections in Montgomery last Tuesday--and this was just the primary in which only a small number of voters participate. Imagine if it had been a general election. We face two problems: election administration and lack of interest. I think I may have a solution: invite the producers of Project Runway to administer our elections.

For those of you who don't watch Project Runway, the premise is very simple. A group of designers compete for the opportunity to start their own clothing line. Each week, they are challenged to create a totally new outfit that meets some different set of conditions. After a runway show, judges critique the results. The creator of the worst outfit is declared the loser and doesn't come back next week.

State legislative primaries would be so much more interesting if they were conducted this way. Instead of knocking on doors begging people to speak to them, candidates would simply face a series of challenges. The last three remaining would get the delegate nominations. Each week, district residents could vote on the winner and the loser by telephone or internet.

For the first challenge on Project Delegate, candidates would have three hours to create a piece of campaign literature out of construction paper, child-proof scissors, crayons, paste, and glitter. John Gerson would serve as the special guest judge. The winner would receive the MCEA endorsement and several cute multiracial kids available to pose for actual campaign literature and web site photos, and the loser would be out.

For the second challenge, candidates would be divided into two teams. Each team would have one week to build a section of the Purple Line. The opponents of the above ground version would have to construct a tunnel near Chevy Chase while the supporters of light rail would have to lay track as residents attempt to disrupt their efforts. Hans "I will build the Purple Line or die trying" Riemer would serve as the special guest judge. The leader of the winning team will be in and the leader of the losing team will be out.

The third challenge would be a race. Candidates would have one week to convince as many voters as possible to put a sign in their yard even as they steathily tear down the signs of their candidates. Candidates would be penalized for each sign placed illegally in a public right-of-way. The winner of this challenge gets a billboard with Hillary Clinton next to the Connecticut Avenue exit of the Beltway. The loser will be out.

I bet you far more people would vote Project Delegate than did in the primaries last week. It wouldn't hurt if the host of the election was a smart, multilingual bombshell like Heidi Klum. Democrats are equal opportunity so they'd take a hunk as well. William Donald Schaefer could be a regular judge as he is bound to keep people watching and jaws dropping. Perhaps all the candidates could stay together at the Holiday Inn on Wisconsin Ave. so we could see how they interact behind-the-scenes and look first thing in the morning.