The Quintessential Presidential Debate: Round 1

Moderator: Good evening. I’m a loosely-informed, sensational journalist from a major news network and welcome you to this prestigious University for the first presidential debate between the Donkey, the Elephant, and the Moose. This debate is sponsored by the Commission on Presidential Debates, which is a hyper-partisan organization that has managed to supplant the nonpartisan, nonprofit organization which used to manage these debates. The format of this debate will be a series of questions which will not attempt to draw out novel nor unique ideas. Nor will it focus on challenging topics in any meaningful way. Instead, we will ask questions on subjects approved by the Donkey and the Elephant in ways that do not attempt to disparage their narratives. We will also refrain from providing any semblance of moderation such as cutting microphones or correcting erroneous claims. Instead, we will permit candidates to talk over each other to their heart’s content and continuously violate time limits without meaningful repercussions. We will begin this debate with opening statements from our candidates.

The Donkey: Well, thank you, and thanks to everyone for hosting debate.

I’m The Donkey. I have been proud and privileged to serve in countless governmental roles. I’m distantly related to a factory worker and have a wonderful two-year-old grandchild. I also have a very cute pet dog, which is relevant. And every day, I think about what we need to do to make sure that the same privileges I’ve enjoyed are available to my grandchild, and also that opportunity for others also exists. I have spent a very long time — my entire adult life — looking for ways to even the odds to help people have a chance to get ahead, and, in particular, to find the ways for each child to live up to his or her God-given potential.

I’ve traveled across our country over the last months listening and learning, and I’ve put forward specific plans about how we’re going to create more good-paying jobs: by investing in infrastructure and clean energy, by making it possible once again to invest in science and research, and taking the opportunity posed by climate change to grow our economy.

At the center of my campaign is how we’re going to raise wages. Yes, of course, raise the minimum wage, but we have to do so much more, including finding ways so that companies share profits with the workers who helped to make them.

And then we have to figure out how we’re going to make the tax system a fairer one. Right now, the wealthy pay too little and the middle class pays too much. So I have specific recommendations about how we’re going to close those loopholes, make it clear that the wealthy will have to pay their fair share, and have a series of tax cuts for middle-class families.

Results of American Tax Code (Source: IRS)

And I want to do more to help us balance family and work. I believe in equal pay for equal work for women, but I also believe it’s about time we had paid family leave for American families and join the rest of the world. As President, you can count on me to spend half my time focused on renaming Post Offices, Freeways, Courthouses, and other landmarks — as previously demonstrated. And the other half will be devoted towards minor fixes mostly unrelated to what I have previously just talked about.

The Elephant: Fifty-nine years ago, Florida welcomed my father to America as he stepped off the ferry boat from Cuba onto Key West. He was 18. He was filled with hopes and dreams, and yet he was in the freest land on the face of the earth. Freedom.

This election, this debate is not about insults. It’s not about attacks. It’s not about any of the individuals on this stage. This election is about you and your children. It’s about the freedom America has always had and making sure that that freedom is there for the next generation, that we stop Washington from standing in the way of the hard-working taxpayers of America.

We need to negotiate trade deals protecting American workers first, not the corporate board room. We need to lift the regulations on American businesses here so we see jobs coming back. We need a tax plan like the tax plan I’ve introduced, but did not write, that will not tax exports and that will tax imports, and that will bring millions of high-paying jobs back to America.

We need to redefine our legal immigration system so that it meets the needs of the American economy. Right now, we’re bringing in far too many low skilled workers. What that is doing is driving down the wages of hard-working Americans. Our system isn’t working. And then on top of that, we’ve got a system that’s allowing in millions of people to be here illegally.

Income Vs Immigration (Source: Congressional Research Service)

And these are just some of the things that are critically important. Listen, we’ve got lots of challenges in the world. But the answer can’t just be wave a magic wand and say problem go away. You have to understand the problems. You have to have real solutions. As President, you can count on me to pass at least one piece of relatively minor legislation each year in accordance with my Congressional record.

The Moose: I don’t want to waste time with self-congratulatory commentary of how amazing my family history is nor commending the awesomeness of hard-working individuals. Instead I’d like us, together, to divert our focus from individuals towards the unspoken problems with our Democracy. When this country was founded, our founders enshrined in our Constitution the restriction that every 30,000 individuals be represented within our government. When one spoke up to amend that number to 40,000, our first President stood up to address the assembly for the first time. He broke his silence in these proceedings to bring up how important this 30,000 number was — that every step away was a move towards tyranny. In the beginning, Congressional members were paid more akin to volunteers — $4,000 to $20,000 a year (in today’s dollars). In 1829, they spent an astounding (at the time) $25,000,000 in today’s dollars on a presidential campaign.

Today, the costs have skyrocketed (by a factor of 24) to $600,000,000.

Today, we pay Congressional members $174,000.

Today, it takes more than 720,000 people to earn representation (an increase by a factor of 24). Our two legislative bodies occupy 2 of the top 15 bodies with the worst population-to-representation ratios.

Today, millionaires and billionaires, who compose less than 3% of the population, compose the majority of legislature.

Today, our legislators “introduce” and “sponsor” laws that are written by special interests almost verbatim.

Representation Vs Pay (Source: Senate)

Today, our government is managed by a club of wealthy individuals. They plagiarize laws written by those with special interests and try to pass it off as generosity while cooking in legal loopholes to guarantee their life of privilege. This scenario exists because of our divergence from a government that is of-and-by the people — because of our movement away from the original Constitutional protections. This move has exacerbated the historical costs of running so much so that it is no longer practical for an ordinary working-class person to run. Assuming it takes 15 minutes to listen and understand a constituent’s concerns, it would take a candidate over 20 years to adequately represent 720,000 constituents. At 30,000 — a candidate could adequately understand their body of constituents in less than a year. At 30,000, communities that have been disenfranchised can band together to be represented using proportional representation models. Whether that be Agnostics, trade workers, Asian Americans, truck drivers, women, Libertarians, the LGBT community, numerous Protestant sects, African Americans, etc. — all these groups, these demographics and more have seen their representation subverted to the benefit of those who can afford to run. As President, I make one promise: to restore American democracy. To restore faith in the institutions we’ve abandoned. If necessary, and if the decent men and women of uniform would abide to carry out such a Constitutionally-questionable request, I would declare martial law and quarantine Congress until such a resolution is reached. If realized — if this solution achieved — I would resign and empower an executive cabinet of such distinction that their collective qualifications will supersede all those running for this office. I will empower them to act as an Executive council that shares the authority of this station until the end of its natural term. I would also instruct a special council to investigate and challenge the courts to provide clarity on this issue — bring fair charges if pursuant to those ends. For if I were to be impeached or jailed, it would represent but a small price. Such a modest cost incurred by the few to provide for the many — enshrining the maximum amount of freedom and liberty to a nation of great potential.