The idea for this column was suggested to me by one of my most persistent critics, who challenged me to play king for a day and list 10 things I would do to make the U.S. a better place. That’s often what my columns are about anyway, so here goes.
I suppose my edicts might include:
1 — Overturning Citizens United so corporations and unions could not contribute to political campaigns.
2 — Doing away with the Electoral College so we can elect presidents, democratically.
3 — Instituting Medicare for all.
4 — Extending free public education through college.
5 — Creating a path to citizenship for all immigrants.
6 — Reforming the tax code so unearned income is taxed higher than earned income and the top bracket pays 50 percent.
7 — Mandating sustainable energy sources and making it a goal to reduce America’s carbon footprint to zero.
8 — Passing the Equal Rights Amendment by fiat.
9 — Outlawing for-profit prisons.
10 — And establishing a minimum wage that is a living wage and establishing a maximum wage for corporate CEOs.
When I jotted these items down I realized many of them come straight from U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders’ campaign platform. I believe just about everything he believes, except that he could have been president. If you want details on how to make America great again, go to berniesanders.com/issues.
Looking over my list, I also remembered that my critic had ordered a cost analysis of every initiative. Personally, I am not concerned about higher taxes if we get a bang for our buck. Universal health care, free college and the planet surviving the 21st century seem worth whatever it costs.
But as I read through my list a third time, I realized I was being entirely too literal and realistic. Who cares what it costs, because it’s not going to happen. In that case, why not be a little more imaginative?
As the fanciful king for a day, I suppose the first thing I would do is erase Donald Trump from presidential history and pardon all those who voted for him. Trump is the greatest threat this country faces and his presidency is self-inflicted. Don, be gone. Poof!
For all those more concerned about taxes than anything else, King Eddie can solve your problem with a wave of the imperial scepter. From now on, only members of the party in power will pay taxes. Conservatives don’t want to pay for services they don’t personally receive. No reason why Democrats should pay for Republican programs. Be careful what you wish for, tax-cappers.
And to ensure tax equity, we will now assess taxes based not only on income and property, but also on weight. The more you weigh, the more you pay. Talk about a motivation to lose weight and get in shape. Of course, there will obviously be those who take it too far. It will probably start with a rash of gastric by-pass surgery, but I predict tax-by-the-ton will also result in voluntary amputations by fiscal conservatives looking to save a buck. Taxes will really cost them an arm and leg.
Presidential politics will also never be the same after I use my royal power to redistribute power in this country. To begin with, I hereby order gender equity not only in the presidency, but also in Congress and on the Supreme Court. When a male president finishes his term, it is time to elect a woman. Got the idea? Appoint a man to the bench, the next appointee must be a woman.
I further decree racial and ethnic diversity in the presidency. I want my legacy to be not only the first woman president, but also the first Hispanic president, first Asian-American president and second African-American president. Thus, 2020 will be the Year of the Woman, 2028 (if she is re-elected) will be the Year of the Hispanic, and so on.
Sometime in the 2040s, we will have the Year of the LGBTQ. I hope I’m still around when that happens. An all-gay presidential election would be a wonderful way to celebrate my 100th birthday.
And oh, my tight-fisted friends, do not worry your petty little heads about what all this royal reform will cost. It won’t cost a thing.
As my final act as king, I hereby prohibit any candidate from spending one cent on his or her campaign, and order the media to provide free airtime to candidates on an equitable basis in exchange for using the public airways and using up bandwidth. No third-party ads. No soft money. No reason networks should make money off the presidential campaigns they cover.
Pay no attention to that man behind the keyboard. The Great Beem has spoken!
Freelance journalist Edgar Allen Beem lives in Brunswick. The Universal Notebook is his personal, weekly look at the world around him.