The primaries are coming! The primaries are coming!
Not quite what Paul Revere yelled, but a scary proposition, nevertheless.
The primaries – the first step in the election of the President. The whole process is like a horse race: lots of contenders, some favorites, some long shots. The contenders are paraded out in front of us in “debates” and the media pundits express their opinions and biases.
Gradually the field is whittled down until there are two main contenders, one wearing blue and one wearing red, and they battle it out to a chad-counting photo-finish.
But in this horse race we rarely make a decision on which horse to put our money on by examining their “form”. We bet mainly based on how the horse looks and sounds during the parade before the starting line is raised.
So let’s drop the horse racing metaphor and get down to business.
It’s just my opinion, but I think that the guy who gets chosen for president is the one who looks and talks the best.
Let’s go back three presidents: Clinton looked and talked better than George Bush in 1992 and better than Bob Dole in 1996.
In my opinion, there wasn’t much to choose between George W. Bush and Al Gore in 2000, so it was really close.
Bush vs Kerry in 2004 was also relatively close, but Kerry’s somewhat aristocratic mien lost to the Bush “man in the street” persona.
And finally we come to 2008 where the smoothness of Obama completely overwhelmed the grittiness of McCain.
I apologize if I upset anyone by this, but I honestly think that is how the majority of voters operate.
So what do I propose?
This principle is “Look Don’t Listen.”
It comes from an article of the same title, written by L. Ron Hubbard in 1972. The article is about the running of a Church of Scientology, but the main thrust is that “The scene is right before one’s eyes,” and he gives some examples:
“Products are appearing or they are not. Bad products are occurring or good products….You can’t know what’s happening in a kitchen by talking to the cook. Because he’s not cooking just then. You can’t know how good the food is without tasting it. You don’t know really how clean a floor is without wiping at it. You don’t know how clean an icebox is without smelling it.”
“Look” is used here to mean more than pointing your eyes at, it means “to inspect something with a view to establishing it’s merits” (from the Oxford American dictionary).
So how do you apply this to choosing a President?
- You look at his/her voting record: Does he/she vote for the things you support and against the things you are against? Is he/she consistent? Does he/she vote for issue X one time and against it another? Does he/she follow the party line or does he/she stick to his/her principles?
- You look at the district he/she represents and the condition it’s in. What are the unemployment figures? What has he/she done to improve the lot of the people in his/her district?
- If he/she has never been in politics before you look at his/her record outside. Let’s say he/she was a businessperson. Was he/she successful? How did he/she treat his/her employees?
There is a lot of looking you can do. Sure, you can listen to what the candidates have to say in the debates and you can look at how pretty they are, but give those things minor weight when making your decision.
Remember: Look don’t listen!