My idea of the week is this: an app that allows you to build your own president. For now the working name for the app is “POTUS,” but only because I have not spent sufficient time (meaning I haven’t thought about it at all) coming up with a better name.
Where the idea came from: every election cycle I’m disappointed, because I never agree even 80 percent with any one candidate; voting always feels like a compromise. Maybe the incumbant who I voted for last time changed during his first term and flat out lied about who he was and what he was going to do, and I can’t vote for him a second term. So I go scouting the competition and hear candidate A say some things I like and candidate B say some things I don’t like. Then one day candidate A disappoints me on some issue that was on the outskirts of my radar, and I realize, wait a minute, candidate A does not represent me on everything. So I start looking around again to see if anyone can win my political heart.
Maybe this app is called “Vote for Me!” And now I’m thinking it could be used for all levels of elections, not just the presidential race.
My assignment for the techies: Develop this app for We the People. It’s a game. It’s educational. It’s fun and interesting. It gets regular folk engaged in election cycles, and maybe can reignite a spark for those ensconced in cynicism.
Considerations: When I first starting turning this idea around in my head, I was focused on the 2016 election, thinking of using real candidate sound bytes from the current campaign trail. But then I thought, that is fine and good for a season, but a second, generic app is also needed that allows people to customize both the candidates and positions.
There are always many more approaches to the issues than are discussed and represented during election cycles, we may need to add other solutions to the issues that are not being promoted in individual campaigns and add those to the database. Ideas from big and small business, from nonprofits, and so on. Candidates often get swallowed up by the Party Line or pushed outside the circle, if they are deemed to “extreme” or inconsistent with party values and big donor special interest. If there is a way for “players” to customize the solutions to each issue, that would make the game more interesting.
While the candidate is built primarily on solutions to issues, you can also create the president’s background, such as gender, age, education, previous work experience, ethnicity, wealth, family, religion (or not). Artists and graphic designers could develop some stock images you could select, or people could upload a custom graphic for their candidate.
You could even put yourself in the election if you wanted to, by developing a candidate based on your own views.
Making it Interactive: The app allows “players” to enter their candidates into mock elections with candidates created by other people, and all players can then vote.
Some interesting social analysis could be conducted after mining the data of what kinds of presidents We the People build, if we could select from a larger pool.
Is someone doing this already, and I just don’t know because I don’t have a smartphone?
I’m pretty sure Carly Fiorina would like this idea. She promotes the use of technology in government and also as a way to engage We the People in the function of our government. During her appearance at the Heritage Action’s Take Back America Forum in Greenville, SC, last Friday, she gave us dinosaur flip-phone users 18 months to upgrade to a smart phone.
Hmm… Given that it is an app, people from other countries would be able to create U.S. presidents and participate in the mock elections.
Hmmm… some more…. can candidates collect (fake) donations in this app? Which means that you can download the app and register with “voter” status, versus “candidate” status. If so, the app must include campaign finance rules. How would the app be made interesting for someone who was only going to vote and not building a president? Each voter could be given the maximum amount of money allowable to donate, and could decide to give all of it to one candidate or spread it around to multiple candidates. The people who build their own president can’t have mock elections if there are no voters.
Money… What could candidates do with their fake money? Buy advertisements in the app?
When I shared this idea with my coworkers last week, no one wanted to talk about it and brainstorm with me. I had to fight to get one person to agree, “yeah, that’s a good idea.” Was it because the others are disengaged? Are we too early in the political season? Does Average American believe my vote doesn’t matter and I can’t make a difference? Or… the problems are so great, I’m overwhelmed and don’t know where to begin to effect change?
And that, People, is my idea, which began last week and continues to percolate this week.