American Elephants

How To Choose a Presidential Candidate — or Not. by The Elephant's Child
October 2, 2011, 7:20 pm
Filed under: Capitalism, Economy, Health Care, National Security

I don’t like the debates. The candidates are lined up like tin soldiers waiting for the media to shoot them down. The journalists attempt to ask “gotcha questions” that will trip up a candidate in some way to get an answer that will make news. The questions are shallow, and not really designed to help us learn about the candidates. The debates encourage us to focus on shallow, inconsequential, factors rather than what matters.

We all have innate reactions to people based on our own heritage and experience.  I’m not talking about racism here, nor about finding attractive members of the opposite sex attractive.  There are some people to whom each of us will instantly respond, but just  who we respond to is different for each of us.

How much of our response is innate, and how much is carefully thought through? Have we decided which are really our most important issues? There are  some issues that can be changed by an election and some that cannot. Which are most important now and most urgent? What is important to you and what simply doesn’t matter?

So what are the qualities we want in a presidential candidate? What matters? What is really important? What do we need to know before we vote? What is a deal breaker?

  1. Looks: Good Hair? Warm Smile?  Tall? Appears Fit? Youthful? If Not, Does it Matter? (Facial Hair, Short, Bald, Fat, Older?)
  2. Experience: Governor? Senate? House of Representatives? Cabinet? Successful Budget? Leadership shown? Bills Passed? Accomplishments? Private Sector or Business Experience? Honesty? Consistency? Associates?
  3. Life Story: Background? Family? Married/Single? Children? Education? Military Experience? Religion? Native State? Accent? Wealth/Poverty? Life History? Up From Poverty? Memberships? Travel Abroad?
  4. Issues: Unemployment,The Economy,  The National Debt, Spending, The Budget,  Taxes, Obama Care, Regulation, Scandals, Global Warming, Energy Costs, Crony Capitalism, Infrastructure, Entitlements, Slashing Military Budget, Afghanistan, Iraq, Middle East, Terrorism, Dodd-Frank, Sarbanes-Oxley, Libya,  Reducing Size of Government, Eliminating Departments, Space, China, Foreign Policy, The European Union, Russia, Gun Rights, Abortion, Education, College Costs, Home Prices, High Speed Rail, Social Security, Medicare, Free Trade, Green Energy, Oil and Gas Exploration, Immigration, Illegal Immigration, Environmentalism, States Rights, Balanced Budgets, Inflation, Free Market Capitalism,

I suspect this list doesn’t even begin to cover all the issues and potential issues. Tell me what I’ve left out.

Can you select out a short list of what really matters for you? Just writing down this list makes me realize that there are quite a few things I have not carefully thought through. It is very hard to think through a candidate’s attributes objectively and not emotionally.

2 Comments so far
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Agree that televised debates probably aren’t the best types of events to reveal candidates to the people. In Britain, a higher proportion of the electorate get their news from radio (BBC Radio 4) than from television, so that softens the effects of looks on people’s opinions.

And though you may not like to see your favorite candidate tripped up by a reporter’s question, that’s their job. Because of their requirement to answer questions in weekly “Ministers’ question time” in Parliament, and frequent interviews on Radio 4, British politicians seem to be more on top of their brief than U.S. politicians, who seem to prefer to appeal to (ever-changing) populist moods. They actually sound intelligent!

I dare you to find an American politician who is the equal of Maggie Thatcher when she was in her prime.


Comment by Subsidy Eye

I’m not objecting to tough questions or a candidate getting tripped up. I’m objecting to the superficial nature of the questions. We have some dreadful problems, unemployment, Obama’s phony jobs program, Arab Spring, Turkey’s new belligerance, Medicare, Health Care, entitlements that we cannot afford, the level of spending, big government, Solargate and Fast & Furious gate, light rail, missile defense treaties, Venezuela, energy policy, or lack thereof and the big story from the debates was Rick Perry saying heartless regarding in-state tuition.

I don’t know if it’s question time or if they learn that in school, but the British are far better speakers. Maggie Thatcher was great, Tony Blair was pretty good and Daniel Hannan is marvelous, as are some of the other EU people. I always thik of it as the mind and the mouth being directly connected. Mine are only distantly related, and I think of what I should have said long after the appropriate moment.


Comment by The Elephant's Child

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