Policies, Character, Resume: Do Your Own Homework

….. Why do we get a steady diet each election cycle of the same Ken and BarbieTOY STORY 3   candidates? Culture has (d)evolved to where, in most cases, ugly folks need not apply. Certainly, if you are of average eloquence, never attended or finished college, have lived a blue collar life, had family issues, or are a ‘recovering’ anything – your path to public office is rocky.

The national political party apparatchiks seem all too ready to assign special status to a specific educational pedigree, good looks, and the ability to say anything (or nothing) without hurting anyone’s touchy feelings in the process. In an age when our country could use a lot of bare knuckled tough love the national political powers are more interested in polished shoes and sensitivity.

 

Drawing to the close of a very contentious political campaign cycle I am amazed that so many intelligent voters do not know enough about the candidates to make an informed decision on who will be their political leaders. When I ask them what they want to see in their elected politicians, after the usual honesty, integrity, and being in touch with the people, the wish list of specifics becomes vague. In other words, they really don’t know how a good politician behaves nor what he/she looks and sounds like anymore. They are prime targets for the worst aspect of the American political process; paid political campaign ads.

We’re all busy people and for too many of the electorate we take the easy road and accept theses ads as gospel along with the media’s spin on the candidates and their parties. We allow them to do the important work of figuring out for ourselves who is the best candidate. These negative TV ads, spun with hyperbole have made most of us cynical and numb to the entire process, but accepting their validity and not really knowing who or what one is voting for is inexcusable in our society.

This all brings me to why we get a steady diet each election cycle of the same Ken and Barbie candidates. Culture has (d)evolved to where, in most cases, ugly folks need not apply. Certainly, if you are of average eloquence, never attended or finished college, have lived a blue collar life, had family issues, or are a ‘recovering’ anything – your path to public office is rocky.

The national political party apparatchiks seem all too ready to assign special status to a specific educational pedigree, good looks, and the ability to say anything (or nothing) without hurting anyone’s touchy feelings in the process. In an age when our country could use a lot of bare knuckled tough love the national political powers are more interested in polished shoes and sensitivity.

To listen to the party mouthpieces; Boehner, Schumer, Hatch, Specter, Rangel, Frank, Pelosi et al, one could easily imagine them looking directly into the camera and telling the voters, “don’t try this at home, we’re trained professionals”.

Maybe we should be looking for other things in our candidates beside the R, D or I next to their names on the ballot. If one tuned in daily to MSNBC it’s likely they would think all Republicans and the entire Tea Party belong in an insane asylum. Likewise, if Fox News is your brand, all Democrats should be brought up on charges of treason. And those loose cannons calling themselves Independents, who knows what they think at any given time?

Regardless of party affiliation, if we began by looking at each candidate for three things in this order; Policies, Character, and Resume we would take a giant step to regaining our political direction. The order is important because each builds on the previous attribute.

Policies Simply put, what does this candidate stand for? What will they do with my vote? Specifics of the candidates’ perspective on issues and the veracity he/she holds are just as important as the policies. The complexion of our political system would change dramatically if each voter took the time to dig deep to obtain these answers.

 

Character How do I know that what they say they will do regarding their policies are truthful? The answers one finds in determining a candidates character will tell you this. Long ago our political system discounted honesty and integrity as a political essential. Unfortunately we accepted this with a ‘whatever it takes’ attitude. As a result of such a low standard we hold our politicians in equally low regard. Perennially they rank at the bottom of virtually every poll that measures confidence and job approval. Character is what guides a candidate to behave ethically and independent from group thought. Politicians that labeled themselves as fiscally conservative Blue Dog Democrats during the 2010 health care debate may well become a political science lecture note as examples of Character not having the political fortitude to back up their perspective on Policy.

 

Resume – Knowing about the candidate’s past is vital to back up any Character issues that will be directly related to carrying out Policy issues? This is where a verifiable record of accomplishments and failures in the personal, civic, and professional arena become important in establishing performance credibility and a history where Character can be quantified.

We have reached a point where the two-party political system is crumbling under the weight of those political professionals entrusted with its very stewardship. Both sides of the aisle have failed us (their employers) and it falls to us to re-establish a new order where the individual candidates’ Policies, Character, and Resume will trump affiliation with a national party. Whether this will lead to a viable three party system or the continued erosion of one or both of the mainstays is to be seen over the next 4-6 years. At the very least, the current unstable state of our political discourse is a warning shot across the bow of those currently running the show.

The inertia of the Tea Party movement is not an anomaly but rather the culmination of discontent by those that have actually been paying attention to American politics as usual at the state and federal level. Policy, Character, and Resume, not party affiliation, stands at the forefront for those that have changed the political landscape in 2010.

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