My Ideal CandidatePosted: November 2, 2012
I spend a lot of time complaining about politics on this blog, and I would argue it is with good reason (there are those who know me that would say I would argue anything, but they’re just jealous). I thought in the interest of balance I would take a little time to lay out what I would like to see in a candidate for office, not just president, but any office really. Seeing this sort of thing would warm my heart, and maybe even get me to reconsider my assertion that there is no such thing as a good politician. While it would be easy to say “a libertarian”, that wouldn’t be entirely true, or completely fair. Even libertarian leaning politicians have been known to fall prey to some of the worst habits that bother me, and so I give you the following guidelines; feel free to offer your own.
First, don’t claim to be an “outsider candidate”. If you are running as one of the two major party candidates, surprise! You are by definition an insider. We have a two-party system that has been made all but exclusive, so trying to claim you are somehow running as an “outsider” with an “R” or a “D” next to your name is disingenuous at best. Likewise if you are running as an independent or third party candidate, chances are I can figure out for myself that you don’t have a chance in hell – excuse me, that you are an outsider without being told (unless you’re really just a major party candidate in disguise and want to pretend you’ve left your party – paging Joseph Lieberman, Senator Lieberman please pick up the white hypocrisy phone in the lobby).
Second, for the love of all that’s holy, please hire a proper fact checker and listen to them. I realize that the pundits and the spinsters will still be playing gotcha politics with everything you say, but when every five year old is saying “liar liar pants on fire” while you walk down the street and I don’t even have to do an internet search to call you out on your least blatant untruths, you’ve hit a new low. Telling the truth has never been fashionable in politics, but who knows, it might be refreshing enough to garner a few votes.
Third, be logically consistent in your policies. I realize this will turn off 95% of the electorate, but I’m discussing my ideal candidate, not theirs. In particular, when you say things like “we’re going to eliminate the deficit, lower taxes, and keep Social Security intact” all in the same breath, I start to wonder if you are either (a) not listening to yourself or (b) high on drugs. Individually these might be laudable goals, but you simply can’t achieve all of them at once. In the same vein, do me the favor of assuming that I have a memory that extends beyond the speech you’re currently giving, because even if I don’t I assure you that there is someone else out there who does, they work in the media, and they are just waiting for the chance to call you on it.
Finally, and this is related to the last point, please develop a political philosophy that is internally consistent and stick with it. Being able to elucidate that philosophy in a way that the average person finds approachable would be a nice plus. By this I mean when I hear Republicans talking about Big Government doing Too Much and being Too Involved In Our Lives and then they turn around and demand that we continue to prosecute the War on Drugs, ban pornography and gambling, and deny homosexuals the right to marry, and meanwhile I hear Democrats talk about how we have every civil right under the sun, but they go out of their way to ban smoking, doughnuts, and sugary sodas, because they know what’s good for you. Come again? I am not demanding that the philosophy in question be one I agree with; if someone wants to come out and say they believe that people make bad choices when left to their own devices and so we have to make these decisions as a community, and then lays out how they believe that based on “the values of our community as a whole” they believe we should ban X, Y, and Z, fine. I disagree, but at least it’s approachable and consistent.
I realize I am asking a lot of politicians, but that is only because they are asking a lot of me. They are asking that I entrust them, literally, with the power of life and death, and more importantly with the power to make decisions about how I am allowed to live my life. That being the case, I don’t think it’s too much to ask that they be upfront and honest with me about how they would use – or abuse – that power.