As a habitual and profoundly addicted voter, I obediently filled out my ballot the day it arrived in the mail. As we all now know, it was a tiresome task. Bad enough that there were 11 statewide issues and a few city issues to ponder, let alone contested races for local offices. Worse still was the presidential ballot, with 19 independent and minor party candidates on the ballot.

Colorado law creates that bizarre candidate surplus. For independent candidates and those from parties without automatic ballot qualification, you need to pay a $1,000 filing fee and submit nine signatures from registered Colorado voters who have agreed to become your electors. 

Such a system invites eccentrics such as Kanye West and a lot of folks who probably shouldn’t have thrown away a thousand bucks. Still, it’s democracy with a small “d” and kind of fun.

To lefties and righties alike, this election seems to be of cosmic significance. My conservative friends tell me that Joe Biden will drive the country to the extreme left, while my liberal buddies warn me that Donald Trump will keep on being Trump, only more so. If I paid attention to both, I’d have to conclude that the choice was Lenin v. Stalin, or Mao v. Hitler. After eight decades on the planet, I don’t think the stakes are quite that high. Yet suffering from extreme Trump fatigue, I’ll vote for Biden. It’ll be nice to open The New York Times and see not a single mention of DJT — our long national insomnia over at last!

And before we know it, 2024! Another presidential election, another lengthy ballot — how can we have fun with it? Here’s my plan.

First, don’t run for president. We might well see Donald Trump nominated once again by the GOP and incumbent VP Kamala Harris replacing octogenarian Joe Biden on the Democratic ticket. It’ll be another hyperpartisan circus. So let’s find an amiable and trustworthy candidate for vice president, one that would appeal to voters of every political persuasion. I have spoken to such a candidate, and he has committed to run.

He is open, fearless and universally admired. May I introduce you to Bentley, a Labrador/bloodhound/mastiff mix we rescued four years ago from a kill shelter in Texas. 

I know, you think that this is some sort of joke. Nope, we’re dead serious. First, the words of the Constitution.

“No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States.”

Bentley was born in the United States, is well over 35 in dog years and has resided here all of his life. It can be argued that dogs are not citizens, but that’s for the courts to decide after the election. And it’s not as if he couldn’t fill the very minimal requirements of the office as well as being the best possible goodwill ambassador to almost any event. Remember the immortal words of Roosevelt’s VP Cactus Jack Garner, who after serving eight years described the office as “not worth a bucket of warm piss.” Voters should ask themselves whether they’d trust a large, friendly dog such as Bentley, or partisan politicians such as Dan Quayle or Spiro Agnew? Moreover, at well over 100 pounds, Bentley is nobody’s lapdog!

Bentley would also forgo the vice presidential salary, and refuse many of the traditional perks of office. He wouldn’t need a massive security detail or a retinue of aides. He wouldn’t embarrass the president by inadvertently going off message, and he would be admirably independent and nonpartisan. At his request, we’ve agreed to move to Washington and bring along his pals Daisy and Dudley. Like him, they’re both rescue dogs.

It’s clear that Bentley is the best choice. The campaign will be formally launched in mid-November after the election, giving Bentley at least a three-year lead over any rivals. We expect that both major party candidates will bow to the inevitable and name Bentley as their running mate. And if one doesn’t, they can say goodbye to the dog-lover vote… 

John Hazlehurst, whose great-grandfather came to Colorado in 1859, is a Colorado Springs native. He has worked as a reporter/columnist for the Indy since 1997 and the Business Journal since 2006.