I ordered a new desktop computer for our family last week. It took quite a long time for me to decide what we needed and wanted. A lot of research went into finding the best configuration for our computer – processor, operating system, graphics, memory, hard drive, among other things. And, the best brand of computer for our price range – Dell, HP, Acer, Lenovo, Apple, Asus, Samsung, and others, including build-it-on-demand companies. I consulted best to worst rating lists by both professionals and consumers. It was my intent to choose the very best computer that we could afford.
Looking at this abnormal and chaotic 2016 presidential election cycle I am faced with yet another decision. Can my method of purchasing a consumer item be applied to choosing a candidate?
First, what are the essentials I need in the product I am considering?
Here is my list of cannot-live-without components for my candidate:
Trustworthiness includes dependability, honesty, integrity, truthfulness, and honor. Does my candidate deserve my trust? Is s/he morally upright, virtuous, sincere? Does s/he hold to firm moral and professional principles, and possess personal, moral, and ethical integrity? Can his/her word be trusted and does it correspond to fact or reality.
Respect consists of consideration, gentleness, and temperance. Is s/he held in high regard and does s/he command my respect? Does s/he respect others? Are the words thoughtfulness, sensitivity, and kindness descriptive of my candidate? When speaking of others does my candidate demonstrate concern for the feelings of others? Can it be said of my candidate that s/he is restrained in behavior and attitude?
Responsibility embraces commitment, consistency, and self-control. Is my candidate loyal to his/her family, friends, party, and constituents? Can it be said of my candidate that s/he is reliable and free of gross contradictions? Does s/he have self-restraint and self-control over his/her own behavior? When s/he gets things wrong can s/he accept blame and be accountable?
Fairness incorporates tolerance, justice, equitableness, and mercy. Does my candidate know how to accept differing views as the rights of an individual and is s/he capable of differentiating between the person and his/her views? Does my candidate judge the motives and condemn people who do not agree with him/her? Can my candidate be fair and impartial?
Caring is made up of concern, generosity, kindness, and involvement. Does my candidate demonstrate sympathy for the plight of others? If s/he has the means does s/he give of his/her time and resources to relieve the suffering of others?
Wisdom comprises discernment, prudence, discretion, and understanding. Does my candidate have good taste, sound judgment, common sense, tact, and knowledge?
Second, what is the best and most reputable brand?
With consumer brands there are often the big boys, secondary, and tertiary brands. Sometimes the largest companies offer what they want to sell and not necessarily what I want to buy. The American auto industry did this in the 1970’s and 80’s with inferior quality cars and ugly ones, too. As a consumer I look for what I want/need, not for what I am trying to be sold. Can the same be applied to politics? If the big boys, Democrats and Republicans, do not have what I want, am I forced to vote for them anyway?
I know the argument that the two big parties are the only ones with a reasonable chance of winning. But, as a consumer, if the big boys will not play, I will not pay. It was only after foreign car makers started grabbing market share that the American auto industry began to produce better quality and more stylish and comfortable vehicles. What if, in this election, the secondary and tertiary parties won record amounts of votes throughout the country, and the primary candidates received only pluralities? Would that send a message and initiate change in the major parties? Perhaps, perhaps not, but it might mark the rise of other brands as a real threat to the major ones.
Third, what is nearest the top on the best/worst list?
There are four parties that have made the ballot in all fifty states and territories. One party has made the ballot in more than twenty states and is eligible as a write-in candidate in all but nine. Five candidates have made the ballot in less than twenty states, but more than five and are eligible for write-in in many more. Twenty-three candidates have made the ballot in less than five states. There are an estimated 400 candidates who have met federal eligibility requirements as write-in candidates. Laws differ from state to state as to who is eligible to be a write-in candidate, but only nine states do not allow write-ins at all. Check your local Secretary of State’s office to see who is on the ballot and who can be written in.
I wonder, if I was to make a consumer best/worst list of the estimated 400 plus candidates running, would the top two party candidates make my top ten? Both have negative approval ratings. Neither is polling above 50% nationally. Party support for either candidate is tepid and underwhelming at best. Am I being forced to choose a product that I do not want or like?
I will not reveal my choice (That is not the purpose of this blog and I am not sure I have decided yet), but these are my certainties:
- I will choose the person with the configurations (beliefs) that I think best serve our country and our progeny.
- I will not choose based on brand (party) if that brand does not represent my essentials.
- I will not choose from the bottom of the list when better alternatives exist (even if they have no realistic chance of winning).