07/17/10 — Less vs. more: Selecting a candidate reflects how much government you want in your life

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Less vs. more: Selecting a candidate reflects how much government you want in your life

There has been lots of talk lately about November.

The general consensus is that there will be a change -- a bunch of new faces directing the future of this country.

But few people talk about whom voters will have to choose from -- and what characteristics they should be looking for as they evaluate candidates.

And surprisingly, it really has only a little to do with whether there is a donkey or an elephant next to their name.

The decision in November is going to come down to a pretty easy break-down -- more government vs. less government.

There are implications that go along with both, not the least of which is how much money you want to keep and how much money you want to hand to the bureaucracy in Washington.

If you are looking for more social programs and you would feel safer if the government managed the possibilities for your retirement and your children's education, and if you think this nation works better if there is more decision-making in Washington, find a candidate who shares those views. Most of them will have the word "Democrat" next to their name.

If you think that the solution to the social ills this nation faces is to create government programs to address those needs, and if you think the solution to illegal immigration is to grant everyone amnesty and start over, you are more likely to find a candidate who represents those views on the blue side of the aisle.

Choose that same side if you want America to stay out of other people's business around the world. If you believe the United States sticks its nose into too many places, you are likely to find more people who believe the same way on the Democratic tickets.

If you want the government to stay out of your life and to keep more of your money, and if you think that you are better-qualified to manage your children's education and futures and to direct your own, then you might need to start your exploration for the perfect candidate on the Republican side.

If you want the government to ship most illegal immigrants home and to close down the sieves that are this nation's borders, and if you would prefer that the government concentrate on stopping criminals rather than limiting the rights of law-abiding citizens to own a gun, then you might have a GOP bent.

And if you think America needs to continue to let terrorists and other despots know that we are as strong as ever and that we will not tolerate threats, intimidations or disrespect and that we are ready to back those declarations up with force if necessary, you might find more people who agree with you on the Republican side.

Now, all that said, there will be hybrids and pretenders in either party. You might find a Democrat with whom you share more views than his or her Republican counterpart -- and you might discover that the person with the "R" by his or her name is really more of a Democrat in disguise -- or vice versa.

But the only way to know is to decide for yourself which issues matter the most to you -- and then to evaluate the candidates and their positions based on those issues.

And that advice also holds true for local candidates, too. Any one of them who says he or she is not "qualified to express an opinion on the issue yet" is dodging having to answer the question. You do not want anyone representing you who is not brave enough and familiar enough with the challenges facing this community or its schools to speak up on the campaign trail.

Americans have learned a valuable lesson over the past couple of years. First and foremost on that list is that presence and speech-making ability are not qualification enough to be a leader. You have to have substance, backbone and demonstrated leadership ability to direct the future of a nation, a state or a community.

Those should be the first evaluations you do of anyone who is asking for your vote this fall.

Published in Editorials on July 17, 2010 10:48 PM