It's what the British call the silly season -- elections -- or more precisely the Primaries. If you're like me you've watched debates, stump speeches and interviews. You may have visited websites and blogs and tried to figure out what each candidate is offering. It can still be confusing. When people tell pollsters that they made up their mind as they entered the voting booth, I cringe.
Deciding on a presidential candidate is a privilege of living in a democracy. Over the last few years as I've researched the early American republic and its leaders, I've discovered 5 criteria you should consider when choosing a candidate.
(WARNING: You will have to think and ponder. You will have to examine your own heart and values and beliefs. You may have to make some hard choices.)
1. The candidate must have a Vision -- a big picture of where they want to lead the nation. They must also be able to tell you what they want to see happen by the end of their four year term.
2. The candidate must be able to make that vision a reality. For some candidates this may be done through their experience and based on their track record. For others it may be based on their ability to inspire others to act through their positive persuasive powers.
3. The candidate must have the proven ability to grow, to change and to evolve. They should have demonstrated that they can continue to examine the facts and change their minds in a principled way, based on changes in circumstances. They must be able to admit both mistakes and evolving thinking.
4. The candidate must have "character." They should demonstrate their values in their actions.
5. The candidate must be willing to be the leader of the entire nation and all the people. To quote James Madison in Federalist 10: They are people "whose wisdom may best discern the true interest of their country, and whose patriotism and love of justice will be least likely to sacrifice it to temporary or partial considerations."
Line your favorite candidates up against these criteria. Do they make it on all 5 criteria? Can you say that they make the grade 100%? If not, time to think some more.
Whoever your candidate is, show up and vote. There is an old adage that says people get the government they deserve. I don't necessarily agree with that but if you don't vote, you really can't complain. See you on Primary or Caucus day.