During the last week I had the privilege of sitting in with our Editorial Board as they interviewed candidates for contested seats for the New York State Assembly and U.S. Congress. During their campaigns candidates each travel thousands of miles, attend countless functions, shake far too many hands, kiss who knows how many babies and graciously perform many tasks to prove their sincerity to the folks who will decide their fate. Some have been rebuffed by constituents before but continue their quest to win the seat they seek.
Every one of the candidates we sat down with was articulate, passionate and optimistic about the opportunity ahead of them to serve the people of their district. Each made a compelling argument for their candidacy. Each question presented was quickly answered, leaving me with just one lingering thought.
What happens to these good people who want so badly to achieve the office and then all too often come up short in the eyes of the electorate once they reach their goal? No doubt most folks vote along party lines so each candidate will always have opposition who find fault with their every action. But frequently once in office the opportunity to distinguish themselves from their fellow representatives seems to fall short of the promises made.
It’s a question I may never fully understand and perhaps it is just a part of the function of our democracy that each representative at the end of the day gets carved up by the two party system and all too often finds the deck stacked against them as they meld into government bureaucracy.
At any rate this will be my last column before you go to the polls if you haven’t already voted for the candidates of your choice. As we explained to each of the candidates with whom we recently met, our role is not to endorse nor try to sway voters. Instead our focus is to provide information that allows them to make the choice they believe to be in the best interest of their country, state, county and town. Respecting the power of their individual vote, we believe it’s an abuse of the medium we control to attempt to tip the scales solely based on our beliefs, something I do believe has affected many major news outlets.
Here are several things to consider before you stand before the ballot and make your choices.
- Can you trust the candidate to use their skills, talents and experiences to make wise choices, follow their convictions and be true to the promises they made on the campaign trail?
- The campaign process is a competition marathon. Has your choice demonstrated the type of character and personal values that you feel will allow her/him to deal with the stress of the office, stand up against the pressure to cave in to the demands of a strong willed senior representative, political party members or overly influential lobbyists or contributors?
- Is your decision based on your own research and knowledge of the candidate’s positions, actions and experience or have you been unduly swayed by slick, politically bias advertising that solely painted the other candidate in an unfavorable light, perhaps even misrepresenting their position altogether?
- Will your candidate be capable of working across the political aisle to seek solutions to the problems that face our government or will she/he be an obstructionists who digs in their heels to anything proposed by the other side?
- Will your candidate place country, state, county or town first before their own political ambition or their personal gain?
Given the many issues facing our society it is extremely important that the choices we make during this election cycle be ones that cause positive improvement for the benefit of the population as a whole. We must put aside our own personal interest and look at the good of all as we cast the ballot that will set the course of government and the many lives affected by their actions for the next several years. May God bless and assist the men and women we place into these important offices. Please remember to vote Nov. 6.
Dan Alexander is publisher and CEO of Denton Publications. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.