How about this for a cure for the presidential blues?

This year’s presidential election has evoked emotions ranging from elation to outrage, from depression to desperation. The problem is not just that politicians are generally held in low esteem, but that outsiders are also viewed by many with equal contempt.

And, perhaps not coincidentally, the hierarchies and clergy of America’s mainline churches are regarded with a degree of disdain similar to that of the body-politick.

Sometime ago, however, an old friend, who was once member of a highly respectable newspaper’s editorial board, came up with a way of solving the problems of church and state. Perhaps its time has come …

The problem, he argues, is not that politicians and prelates are perceived as being out of touch and uninspiring—a complaint traditionally levelled at them. Today, they are seen as having no saving graces whatsoever.

Rather than being merely out of touch, they are considered to be either hidebound, maladjusted, and reactionary, or wild-eyed, unprincipled, malevolent, and radical. There seem to be no in-betweens.

According to my friend, the problem lies not so much with the personalities of today’s politicians and prelates, but the process by which we appoint them.

Elections, he claims, are passé. Elections, he says, started down the road to obsolescence when Henry Ford declared: ‘History is bunk’.

Now that history (in the historical sense of the word) is no longer taught in our schools, it makes little sense to continue using a selection system devised in the 18th Century and no longer understood, he says.

What is needed, he says, is a system more in tune with our modern way of doing things—a system that more closely matches candidates’ talents and aptitudes with the level of competition they face.

To all intents and purposes, he says, politicians and prelates, whether they realise it or not, are essentially playing in leagues.

The problem is that our election system is so hit and miss that major league talent all too often ends up in the minors, while minor league talent is stretched far beyond its abilities in the majors.

The answer, he contends, is to take a lead from professional sports. Professional sports managers don’t employ democratic methods to put together winning teams. Fans don’t get to elect the players. Sports organisations trade for their star athletes.

Let’s look back at history to see how the proposed system might work:

Say, for instance, George Washington had been born in 18th Century Switzerland. There really wouldn’t have been any way for him to exercise his talents—the Swiss not being into revolutions and all that.

If, however, the proposed system had been instituted, the Swiss would have been able to trade George Washington with our Founding Fathers for somebody whose talents lay more in their sphere of interest—finance and economics, for instance.

They would surely have jumped at the chance of signing a financial wizard like Alexander Hamilton.

The drawback, of course, is that the British might well also have been in the bidding. Adam Smith and a draft pick to be named later would certainly have tempted shrewd Swiss bankers.

The Brits’ offer might have been so tempting, in fact, our Founding Fathers might have been obliged to sweeten the deal by throwing in Ben Franklin, with Tom Paine as presidential speech writer.

How would the system work today? Well, it seems fair to say that François Hollande, the French President, and Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany, would definitely be headed for the minor leagues unless their batting averages improved substantially.

Doubtless, the prospect of being traded off to places like Iceland, Chad, Mongolia or, God forbid, Libya would be a powerful incentive for them to do better.

The system, my friend contends, would work equally well for America’s mainline churches.

Denominations with declining memberships and flagging finances, for example, could swap up to half their hierarchies for, say, Pope Francis, Joel Osteen, or the Dhali Lama—and lop huge amounts off their payrolls in the process.

Hordes of the more hapless parochial clergy, for example, might usefully be traded to farm teams in such remote places as Wake Island or Midway in exchange for a promising fundamentalist third round draft pick, fresh out of seminary, to be named later.

But, while the proposed system has promise, it is not without its downside. Some mainline churches might instead opt to trade dead wood for up-and-coming witches and warlocks or even some of the Moslem world’s more violent ayatollahs.

Come to think of it, judging by experience, that’s exactly what they would be likely to do! Back to the drawing board! GPH✠

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