Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Questions for Candidates

Election season is fast approaching and as we begin to decide who to support for various offices I’d like to share some of my thoughts on that topic.

Running for OfficeWhen we elect someone to public office we are entrusting them to make decisions on our behalf using information to which we often don’t have access. That being the case I’m more interested in the quality of their character than a specific policy position that may change as an office holder gets access to additional information.

Here are 5 questions that will not be asked of candidates in public debate, but which I seek answers to when evaluating candidates. Some of these are best answered (e.g. #2) by people who know the candidate rather than the candidate:

  1. Tell me about circumstances where you chose to do what you thought was right but which had the possibility of negative personal consequences.
  2. Can you site examples where you have quietly served others without regard to recognition?
  3. Tell me about a mistake you made and how you went about rectifying it.
  4. What do you do to keep yourself morally grounded?
  5. What is the source of your values?

If a candidate is not a person of character then I’m reluctant to trust him (or her) with the power that comes with any political office regardless of party or positions of the moment on the issues of the day.

The next set of questions I seek answers to are related to a candidates view on the role of government.  They include the following:

  1. Where do our basic rights come from (and what are they)?
  2. What is the role of government relative to those rights?
  3. Is the Constitution a “living document”?
  4. Is it relevant today?
  5. How do we best interpret its meaning?

Although individuals may be of strong moral character if their view of the role of government tends towards socialism vs. individual responsibility that creates a bridge I cannot cross. If they consider the Constitution to be a living document subject to loose interpretation depending on the whims of society rather than a standard that should be protected and only adjusted after careful consideration I would not be able to support them.

Lastly, I look for answers to questions that cover their qualifications for the particular office. For example, for an executive position such as mayor, governor or president, questions I would seek answers to include:

  1. What positions of leadership have you held (government, industry or charitable organizations).
  2. Tell me about the people you picked to help support you in that role?
  3. What criteria did you use in selecting them?
  4. What challenges was your group able to overcome and how did you make them successful?
  5. Tell me what you think the job description is of the position for which you are running and prioritize the associated responsibilities.

While these three areas are all important I value the answer to the first (moral character) over a candidate’s view on the role of government or qualifications for office. I also could not support a highly qualified individual whose view on the role of government did not align with mine. Why would I want a person to win who would be very effective at implementing policies and programs that  run counter to my views?

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