When it comes to candidates, to limit how much research to do to pick qualified candidates, I look first at their campaign strategy to see if I can eliminate anyone. This is my criterion for elimination:
- Does the candidate pick a certain group as the source of our nation's problems as the focus of their campaign? The group can be the opposite political party or a group based ethnicity, gender, religion, or sexual orientation. If the candidate is targeting a particular group of people you shouldn't vote for them for several reasons. First of all, if they start blame-shifting as part of their campaign, what is the likelihood that they will accept responsibility while they are in office? And if they don't accept responsibility, then they emotional children in the guise of adults and we don't want children running our country, state or city. And if they are targeting one particular group, they are oversimplifying the situation, which means they are incapable of critical thinking and problem solving skills. Furthermore, if they target one group, what will keep them from targeting your group in the future? After all, fifteen to twenty years ago, we were told how horrible coconut oil was for our health and how the evil movie theaters were secretly trying to kill us by cooking popcorn in coconut oil because it was addictively delicious. And now what are all the health experts saying about coconut oil? Soviets were the evil empire during the Cold War, then they were okay during Glastnost and now they are working themselves into the evil empire again.
- Does the candidate spend all of their marketing money attacking their opponent rather than offering solutions? If all they can do is tear down and attack, they will have a difficult time working with other people because they cannot be trusted. Also, my experience is that most of the attack ads misrepresent the candidate's position or an incumbent's voting record, which makes them liars, which means we can't trust them, which means we shouldn't vote for them.
- Does the candidate employ tactics designed to play upon your fears and worries? Don't vote for that person because they are snake oil salesmen and snake oil salesmen are liars.
- Have they been in office more than twelve years? Politics shouldn't be a career path. It should be a temporary detour to serve your country and should possibly include a vow of poverty. People who have been in office more than twelve years should step aside and let other people step up and serve, getting income from the private sector, not the public's tax money. Besides, the longer people stay in office the more used to power they get and we don't need people making laws to serve their own need for power and control.
- Are they making promises that sounds too good to be true? Are they spouting off catchphrases and twitterfodder that is devoid of meaning? Are they responding to a situation in a knee jerk reaction? Then don't vote for them because they are either making promises they don't intend to keep in order to look good, which makes them liars or they don't have a firm grip on reality, which makes them unstable. I think we can agree that neither are good attributes for lawmakers.
- Does the candidate throw a temper tantrum when criticized for what he or she says and requires retribution equivalent to an arm for an eye when embroiled in conflict of his or her making? Do we really want someone who acts either like a toddler or bully to have control of our nuclear codes or being the head of diplomacy? It makes me sad that I even have to write this.
At this point, you hopefully have at least one or two candidates whom you can research. If these five qualifiers eliminate all candidates, then maybe remove one (or, if necessary, two) of the five disqualifiers that are least offensive see which candidate is available. Realize that no one candidate is going to be a perfect fit and they are most likely to make mistakes while in office. Give them the same grace you want other people to give to you. And please vote in your state's primaries, even if you feel that your candidate doesn't have a chance because not voting becomes a self fulfilling prophecy.