Look Deeper than the “I” Factor When Voting

Front Page, Opinion/Editorial

     In a few days, all the craziness will be over with the elections.  Until then, the smart voter still has work to do.  When I taught 7th graders, we used political ads to see the kinds of sneaky tactics used to drag in votes.  I won’t teach the entire lesson here, but I will pose a few questions for you to consider before you cast your vote, questions my students were asked to use to evaluate the trustworthiness and capabilities of a candidate.

  • Does the candidate have the knowledge and skills to do the job, or does he/she just have a long list of unrelated accomplishments?  For example, what does belonging to a civic club or building a playground really have to do with running a school or a city?
  • What is the candidate’s motive for running for office?  Does he/she see problems and want to help find a way to fix them, or is it all about the person simply getting his/her name on a law, a building, or a project?
  • Is the candidate a logical thinker who has the ability to solve problems?  Often simply by listening to a candidate respond to a question posed spur of the moment or reading a letter to the editor they’ve submitted to a local newspaper, it becomes apparent if the person is smart enough to read, listen, and research a problem at hand.
  • Does the candidate’s letter or speech simply spew glittering generalities to make him/her look good?   When this happens, the voter needs to look very closely and do a little digging.  Often these kinds of candidates like to take credit for every project even if other people really did most or all of the work.  That’s not only a sign of laziness, it is a sign of a liar.
  • Does the candidate have a history of  positive life experiences that reveal good character?  With the national races we’ve seen in last few years, it sometimes seems that good character is not even a pre-requisite for running.  At the local level, the voter may actually know how a person has behaved in his/her public and private life.  Leopards rarely change their spots.  If the person is mean, underhanded, deceitful, or self-centered before the election, that probably won’t change after he/she is elected.
  • Does the candidate care more about getting credit and making a name for himself/herself, or is the candidate genuinely concerned about whom he/she serves?  If it appears the candidate has taken a huge dose of Vitamin I (“I did this” and “I did that” and “Look what I did”), then what that person wants will usually be much more important than what the people need.

     My students were able to spot a sneak or a snake a mile away.  They also agreed that a person who is of good character, is smart, can solve problems, works hard, cares not about who gets credit for a project, seeks to do no harm, and considers the effects of his/her decisions before voting is the best person for the job.  Those kids are voters now, and I hope they remember what they learned so long ago as they vote in this election.

NOTE:  The Paper Trail News has invited all candidates to submit letters.  Hopefully, the readers will look carefully at what the candidates say – and don’t say.  Are they all about themselves and their own needs or about our needs?  Vote carefully, my friends.

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