On Political Choice

Joshua Alston’s profile of Sam Waterston, one of my favorite actors, includes this wonderful one-liner:

In a country where we’re bombarded by choice, why are we forced to step inside the voting booth every fourth year and choose between french fries and onion rings?

He’s talking about Waterston’s “cause,” Unity08, which is attempting to get a bipartisan ticket on the ballot in all 50 states.

It’s a radical concept, if only because of its roots in our founding. The US first chose as its vice-president as the best also-ran. When Washington was elected, John Adams earned enough second votes of the electors to give him the vice-presidency. The political bloodbath that was the Election of 1800—36 ballots in the House before Jefferson was elected—led to the passage of the Twelfth Amendment, requiring separate electoral ballots for president and vice-president.

It’s an interesting idea that probably should get more attention.


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