Whoever wins the presidency on Tuesday, this is the acceptance speech I dream of hearing:
“Thank you, America.
“And I’m sorry.
“I’m sorry this election turned into a campaign of hate. I’m sorry every ad was dipped in venom.
“I’m sorry we called you at all hours. I’m sorry we hounded you until you wanted to blow up the TV and pull the phone from the wall. It’s wrong. It’s unforgivable. I am going to make sure, by the time I leave office, laws are in place that keep people like me – and my opponent – from doing that again.
“The truth is, the guy I ran against is not a bad man. He’s not a total fraud. He’s not the death of all good ideas. He’s not the devil incarnate.
“He wouldn’t have ruined the country. He would have done the best he could. He would have picked smart people, and they would have tried the way most of us try.
“His philosophy on some things is different than mine. But he would not have repealed every law that matters to you. He would not have harpooned the economy. He would not have sold America to a foreign power.
“We trick you into thinking the other guy would be a dictator. It’s a lie. But it works to get us elected.
“It worked for me.
“But it has to stop.”
So many loopholes
“So does the money we spend. They say over $3 billion went into TV ads electing presidents, Congress and governors. Three billion? On TV ads?
“You’re right. That’s insane. We talk about campaign finance, but we don’t do it. We don’t want to. It’s like a kid cutting his own allowance. So we make laws, but we allow for loopholes, and the loopholes eat the laws the way termites eat a house.
“That has to stop. It may seem disingenuous now that I’m in office, but I’m going to expose every loophole, point out every hypocrisy, and not care about whom I anger in my party, until Congress is shamed into real reform. I will keep coming straight to you, the American people, telling you the tricks and lies and backroom deals that are going on, until honest reform is passed.
“By the way, the same is true on waste. We collect your money hungrily but spend little time analyzing if this program or this study or this appropriation is worth it.
“The truth is, we blow an extraordinary amount of your taxes on things we don’t need. So I’m going to make waste analysis a top priority of my administration – and not just some report from the Government Accountability Office that sits on a desk.
“Each year of my term, I will report on how we can cut at least 20% of what we spend without affecting a thing. I have to think we blow at least that much. I mean, have you ever seen government bureaucracy? I’m PART of it! I know!”
Doing the right thing
“Also, now that the voting is over, let’s get this straight: Not everyone who earns money in this country is the devil, and not everyone who doesn’t is a freeloader.
“We pitted you against each other to try to win the election. It was wrong. It was disgusting. America is the land of opportunity – for everyone. That’s what we should celebrate. Instead, we painted a picture where you were on one side of the 47% or the other. We encouraged the poor hating the rich and the rich resenting the poor. We used class warfare to get us to this office, not because it is right or decent or moral – but because it works.
“Shame on us.
“Shame on me for being a part of it.
“I want to be better. I want to lead better. I want to begin by inviting my opponent – who took close to half of the vote – to be part of my inner advisory cabinet. I want to make sure I surround myself with people of both sides.
“I don’t want to reach across the aisle – I want to live in the aisle. I am the president. I have to surrender partisanship.
“The hate will never stop until it starts to stop with me. The fact is, elections should be celebrated as the greatest exercise of freedom and democracy this country has. They shouldn’t be as poisonous as a snakebite and as dreaded as an execution. Hopefully, in four years, I’ll have helped change that. I’m sending every American a copy of this speech. Hold me to it. Please. You have that right.
“After all, I work for you, don’t I?”
Contact Mitch Albom: 313-223-4581 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Catch “The Mitch Albom Show” 5-7 p.m. weekdays on WJR-AM (760).