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A week before the nation votes for its 45th president, one verdict is already in: The nomination process used in producing the candidates is terribly broken, and needs to be fixed. Disgust, nausea, contempt and anxiety are the emotions produced by the two major candidates. They are widely described as corrupt, vicious, and partly unhinged, and this is by people who plan to vote for them. A focus group of twelve people convened by Peter Hart recently uncovered the fact that no one liked either.

A common reaction is utter astonishment that a country of more than 300 million could end up with two such despicable people. Clearly, either would lose by double digits if they hadn’t been facing the other, and the only reason most people can give for voting for either is that the other would be so much worse.

True, there were several black swan events during this season that helped to produce this result. Hillary Clinton, a poor politician, would never have been where she is had she not been the wife of a previous president, who was able to clear the field for her, and the beneficiary of a huge dynastic machine that had been raising money for 25 years.

The GOP had a huge field of 16 non-Trumpsters, helped by the fact that family money kept Jeb Bush in the race after his viability had long since expired, allowing him to tear down most of the other contenders. Bush staying in also allowed Trump to emerge sadly victorious with less than one-half of the vote.

One field was too large, one was too small, and dynastic money screwed up both equations, but this doesn’t explain why two runners-up were unelectable also. Bernie Sanders was a 74-year-old Socialist of no prior distinction, and Ted Cruz proved unable to reach beyond his own base of movement and social conservatives and had a long and proud record of being obnoxious to people, and otherwise pissing them off. In 2012, the Republican field consisted of one sane person — Mitt Romney — and eight or so unelectables. Clearly, the system’s in serious trouble. Here are some things that could help.

Let the parties take back control of the process, put the “convene” back in “convention,” and establish some standards as to who can get in, such as a viable political pro, a party member, someone with a (recent) record of wins, (and not eight or more years previous). No doctors or ministers, circus performers, hucksters or people who want to sell books. Clear the stage of the long parade of show-offs, con men, hacks and has-beens seeking a comeback after God knows how many years of well-earned obscurity. And restrict the stage to serious people who are now in office, or recently left to campaign. Keep the primaries, but change the states and order of them, in order to screen out the wingnuts and/or the eccentrics, and screen in those who can build coalitions, and appeal to people across party lines. Toss out Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina as the national gatekeepers, and toss in the eight states in the prior election in which the margin is closest, and come fairly close to the national mix of “diversity” (an annoying word, which does have its uses) across ideological, ethnic and/or class-based lines.

Something should be tried, as the current formula is clearly not working. And this current season of Clinton, Trump, Cruz and Sanders has been altogether too dispiriting, painful, grisly and ghastly to ever be lived through again.

Noemie Emery, a Washington Examiner columnist, is a contributing editor to The Weekly Standard and author of “Great Expectations: The Troubled Lives of Political Families.”

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