|HELP FOR YOUR PRE-PRIMARY JITTERS 26 Feb. 2016||| Print ||
HELP FOR YOUR PRE-PRIMARY JITTERS
26 Feb. 2016
Dear Friends and Patriots,
If you will allow me to, I wish to make a few observations about things that will be happening in the next week or so. Those election things, mostly; including politics and things that bear on politics.
A good overall guideline whenever approaching a political race is to understand as many of the underlying principles at play as you can. Every race has them. If an office involves taxes in any way, there are real principles that should be considered to ensure you get the person in office who will ensure goals are truly worthy and taxes are applied only to achievement of those goals. If the office involves any aspect of judging people’s actions or behavior there are principles of justice, law and equity that need to be understood. If you can grasp the principles that underlie the purpose of the office itself, choosing the right candidate may be as simple as figuring out which one is most likely to ensure those principles are scrupulously adhered to. The hardest part of choosing is often to understand the principles. The next harder is to listen to and read candidate statements to ensure you’re making the best pick.
Let me start with some elections pretty close to home. I live in Mobile County, Alabama, so my focus is there. But, that doesn’t mean you can’t take the evaluative method described below and apply it anywhere in the nation, for any political race. You can. Just read and understand. It’s not rocket science.
The district seat on the Alabama State Board of Education is a good one. Most here in Southwest Alabama are pretty interested in the SBOE race for one specific reason – Common Core. The state has taken to calling it College and Career Ready Standards instead of Common Core. I’m sure they changed their reference in an attempt to quell the fires that rage whenever Common Core is mentioned. Oddly enough the new reference has been used as a Common Core descriptive for several years. For those well-versed in Common Core the new name is an obvious reference.
Who is the best candidate for our SBOE representative? You need only to reference the candidate who is most adamant in declarations of intent to end Common Core implementation in Alabama. The candidates vary in one respect. One is far less adamant, though if you listen to his advertising, you might not think so. The advertising refers to standing up to Washington and ensuring Alabama’s standards are our own. Those are tricky words and clever phrases, relying on most voters not to understand the federal government has been excruciatingly careful to keep the Department of Education’s fingerprints off state implementations of Common Core. When someone tells you they want to keep Washington out of our schools, you want them to be talking about grant money, not standards. The advertising in question is nothing more than a ruse to confuse the voters. Don’t fall for it. Vote for the candidate who is specific about what they will support and what they want to achieve. Vague and misleading references may not be lies, but they are intellectually dishonest. One candidate in the race will work hard to end Common Core in Alabama. The other candidates are most likely to continue to obfuscate and dither. Need I say more?
Let’s move on to a race that’s a bit harder to decide. I’m thinking of a state circuit court judgeship race. One candidate actually states he’s running because someone told him he ought to. I’m sorry, but that’s no reason to do anything in life, unless it’s one of your parents, your spouse, or your boss doing the telling. A candidate for elected office should be able to articulate a rationale that makes sense, as well as a vision for what they will do for the citizens. What will a candidate bring to the position that’s either currently lacking or is a new and innovative area of focus that will give enhanced benefit to the community? If you listen to the candidates, one of them is describing such things and one isn’t. Vote for the one who is.
Mobile County has an interesting race for School Board, District 5. To be honest, I believe either candidate will serve the needs of parents, students and teachers very well. Both are fiscal conservatives. Both are very pro-local control. Both primarily fixated on the needs of children. There is a difference on the question of Common Core, but we must keep in mind the local school boards take direction from Montgomery. They are not deciders on state-approved curricula. That being true, the question of Common Core is actually moot, but it may be germane that one candidate is willing to register dissent on the matter, while the other indicates the county position must follow the dictates of state law and guidance from the SBOE. As a career dissenter, I know where my vote will go.
The race for Alabama’s 1st Congressional District is red hot. Our incumbent is Bradley Byrne. The challenger is Dean Young. We’ve seen this before, four years ago to be exact. Nothing much has changed except Congressman Byrne now has a record to judge him by. Mr. Young has his campaign promises, which are very simply stated. I encourage all to closely examine the voting record and public statements of our sitting Congressman and decide if what you see and have heard reflects your own beliefs and principles. If so, then vote for him. If not, then consider giving Mr. Young a shot. It’s really that simple. I know how I’ll vote. I’ll vote for the person who hasn’t tried to deceive me. If you’ve done your homework on both candidates, you’ll know who has tried to deceive me and every other voter in the district. There’s a principle at play here. It’s called ‘HONESTY.’
For the first time in . . . forever our senior Senator, Richard Shelby, has viable challengers; four of them to be exact. That makes the whole principle evaluation exercise a bit harder. I still recommend it. There are a couple of local folks in the race and a couple from the northern part of the state. Look at them all closely. Consider your principles in your evaluations. One of the challengers espouses principles close to my own. Two are very hard for me to evaluate. One doesn’t seem to communicate based on principles at all. The incumbent is at an age where one must consider the potential that he won’t complete another term. He also has a voting pattern that is a little disturbing to an ardent conservative. He has a lot of seniority, but seniority itself is no principle of any kind. My choice in this race has become very clear. Decide your priorities on this race, then do the principle evaluation. Remember, this is a six-year deal. Choose with extreme care.
That leaves us with the most important race of all to decide. We have to pick our horse for President of the United States. I’ll admit right away that neither candidate on the Democratic Party ticket could ever get my vote. I won’t waste more words on them. I wish they would both just go away and let the Republican who prevails in that party’s primary assume the office. But, we know that won’t happen.
The Republican field has narrowed, but not quite enough. If you watched the last two debates you’ll know the conversations have devolved into verbal jousts more reminiscent of a schoolyard insult contest than anything else. The media isn’t helping us here at all. What may help is for each of us to revert once again to consulting our own principles and trying to match up our belief system with that of the candidates’ expressions. There’s a dog in this pack for each of us. The question is . . . is there a dog for all of us? I think there is, but it would be a lot better if the pack of snarling, spitting pit dogs would relax and focus on us for a change, and answer up to our concerns. That won’t happen soon enough for us. Our pick has to be made next week. In acceptance of that truth, I’ve scrubbed my decision matrix once again and know who I’ll vote for. Once again, it’s the candidate who most reflects my own values and closely held principles. I urge each of you to do that same evaluation and not go to the polls to decide once you’re in the booth, and not to vote based on your emotional connection with one of the candidates. We wouldn’t want our country to be run based on emotional appeals. Why would we choose our next leader on that basis? We must all use our heads for more than hat racks and do the hard work of systematically evaluating the candidates. If you do, you’ll vote responsibly. If you vote based on your emotions, you probably won’t. You’ll probably be doing exactly the same thing the Democrats did in 2008 and 2012. We can do better, and we must.
Obviously I haven’t openly revealed the candidates I’ll vote for. Those who know me well already have that figured out. My objective isn’t to advise you on who to pick, but how to pick who you’ll pick. Stop listening to others. Stop listening to the media. Listen to yourself. Listen to the candidates. Get firmly in touch with your values and principles and make your selections based on how all those things line up. The candidate in each race who most closely resembles your perceptions of you is the one you should vote for.
Good luck to us all. If we err next week in any of these races, it’ll be a long tough period before we can try again. Our time as a nation may not be quite long enough for that. Choose with care. Choose with caution. Use your head.
That is all.