Will You Choose the Right Candidate?

Will You Choose the Right Candidate?

The most powerful person in the world. That’s what we’re voting on one year from today.  All presidential elections are important. But, damn. I don’t think I’m alone in thinking 2020 will be a pivotal year in a way we’ve rarely seen in our country. How will you choose the right candidate? It’s a question we all need to ask ourselves.

One year from today, every U.S. citizen over the age of 18 will have the right, the duty to vote for the person they feel is best qualified to lead our country. “Best qualified to lead our country.” What does that even mean? More importantly, what does that mean to you?

You want to choose the right candidate, but where do you start? If you’re like me, it might help to think about dividing your evaluation process into two parts.

# 1: The Issues.

What are the candidates’ standpoints (current and historic) on the issues? There are a lot of them – both candidates and issues. What are all the issues important to you? And are they all equally important? Do you think some are more critical to the success and survival of our country than others? Do you even know what all the issues are, or do you focus only on those that affect you personally? You can’t know what you don’t know, so how do you find out? And then, how can you compare the candidates’ experience and positions as they relate to these issues. (Hopefully, you’re not a single-issue voter. A president has to take a stand or take action on hundreds – if not thousands of issues during their time in office. Please don’t base your vote on such a narrow view.)

In doing research for this post I ran across the website, I Side With.  I Side With is a non-partisan, online tool created in 2012 by college roommates, Taylor Peck and Nick Boutelier. Taylor is a political analyst, having majored in Political Science in school. Nick is the technology side of the team and they’re both data geeks. Together they manage a pretty extensive database of candidates, issues, candidates’ positions and performance related to these issues. The site covers national elections as well as some regional and local election ballots. 

The Quiz

There is a quiz of 20+ multiple-choice questions asking for your position on various issues and how important that particular issue is to you. The multiple-choice responses were selected based on documented candidate positions. Plus you can write in your own response if the responses they offer don’t quite encapsulate your position. You can also see the write-in responses others have left, in case one of those better fits with your view. (There are notes referencing the resources used in creating the quiz and the responses if you’d like more details.  And, FYI: There’s a “Show More Questions” option for most issues so don’t miss them. I only answered 21% of the available questions the first time.)

Once you’ve answered all the questions, you’ll need to sign in using your Google account, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. – and enter your zip code. Once done, you can see “Your Results”. Prepare to be amazed.

The Results

The “Your Results” section has 4 tabs:

  1. 2020 Presidential,
  2. My Ballot,
  3. My Parties,
  4. My Answers.

With the exception of the “My Answers” tab, which is just a copy of the quiz and your responses, each tab shows the candidates and party platforms best matching your quiz responses. The 2020 Presidential tab is self-explanatory. It shows the candidates running for president in the order of how well they match your responses, most to least. The “My Ballot” tab shows your state and, if available, regional/local ballots and the candidates running in the order indicated by your quiz. Finally, the “My Parties” tab shows the political parties in the order of most matching your responses to the least.

I Side With may not be perfect, but it’s organized, quite thorough, easy to navigate and data-driven – publicly available data (issues and candidates) and personally provided (you). There are other polls and details available on the site. They also are tracking other country elections. Want to follow the UK’s next Brexit vote in December? Take some time and check it out.

# 2: The Person.

Aside from our evaluation of the candidates and their position on issues, it’s human nature to judge an individual based on their personal qualities. Our perceptions influence how we vote as much, if not more than the individual’s experience or standpoint on an issue.

Personal qualities we typically consider important when voting for our representatives include:

  1. Character: Perceived honesty, and trustworthiness
  2. Competence: Experience and knowledge; the physical, emotional and mental ability to handle the job of president.
  3. Leadership: A proven strong and inspiring leader.
  4. Compassion: Concerned and caring for all U.S. citizens.

These qualities are subjective and are based on the information we have, our judgment about the sources of this information and the filters through which we see the world. We also consider different qualities to be of varying levels of importance and the varying levels of importance may vary depending on the person being evaluated. Now THAT’s subjective. Awareness is what I think is important, here. It’s important to be aware of your perceptions and how they are (or are not) impacting your decision.

The Right Candidate

The breadth of knowledge, experience and emotional capacity one must have to effectively execute the office of the President of the U.S. borders on impossible. Let’s fulfill our responsibility and be as responsible and well-informed as we can be. Let’s make the best decision we can make and cast our vote for the right candidate for our country. Let’s also do what we can to help others find the information they need so they, too, can make the best decision they can next year.

If you know another unbiased, transparent source of information that would help us be more informed on the issues, the candidates – help us choose the right candidate, please share with us. If you’ve found the information in this post helpful, please share with your friends. Because we are all responsible for electing “the person best qualified to lead our country”.  

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