Politics — Policy v Personality

We are in the beginning throes of the long dance to elect a President of the United States in November of 2020. Happens every four years. It has become a brutal ritual, an endurance test in which the entire range of human emotion is at play.

Today, we do not champion a candidate without also decrying the opposition. No revelation there. That is as old as the Republic.

Inasmuch as elections are binary (except for Ross Perot and Howard Schultz) it is not unusual for a prevailing candidate to be the beneficiary of a vote for the candidate, but, alternatively, also a vote against the opponent.

“I am voting for Madame X.”

“I am voting against Madame X’s opponent.”

Both of these votes show up in the final tally in the same manner. The successful candidate doesn’t really care.

We make these decisions — for or against — based on policy and personality.

Political policy

During campaigns, candidates will tell you anything they think you want to hear. They are called “campaign promises” and they have a very short shelf life, if any at all. Some suggest they are written in disappearing ink.

In the most recent election, the successful candidate initiated an annoying practice of actually honoring campaign promises. He was an amateur politician and can be forgiven for not understanding how the game is played. Nonetheless, there is a new wave of expectation that policies, spawned as campaign promises, may actually become law or enacted by Executive Order.

In the current Democrat nominating process, the field is broad and generous, a good thing. The vast majority have adopted a series of proposed policies that are indistinguishable from each other.

There is a noticeable drift — OK, a lurch — to the left in the Democrat party as evidenced by the policies each candidate espouses. I make no judgment on those policies, but note there is not much daylight amongst the candidates.

One is left with the conundrum — is the campaign promise made by Candidate A as likely to be enacted if Candidate B (who embraces the same policy) is nominated?

That question leads us to the next consideration — personality.

Political personality

Much of political personality is also based on policy. If a candidate is a young, white guy, but he is very “woke” then he is inoculated against the deadly virus of being terminally white (and old).

The electorate “likes” someone who mirrors their interest — diversity, first woman president, first openly gay president, add your own favorite intersectional subdivision — and who embraces their policies such as open borders, abortion through kindergarten, the abolition of ICE, the green leap forward, free everything for everyone.

Policy may make an outwardly unacceptable candidate — an old white guy like Bernie — acceptable. Bernie may be a little old, but he is woke AF. I admit to chuckling when looking at two old pale guys at the top of the polls and two young white guys trying to break through. But, I digress.

As noted earlier, voters cast their ballot “for” a candidate, but also “against” an opponent. On that score, the current occupant of the White House will attract a substantial number of votes for the Democrat candidate as the voters will be exercising their prerogative to vote against the old, pale, business guy.

What about you, Big Red Car?

Hell, I’m just like everybody else. I do pay attention to policy more than the average voter in that I actually study the policies enacted as well as the policy promises.

I am as dumbfounded as anyone else to see how much of the current President’s campaign promises have become law. Yikes. I never saw this coming.

I admit I would vote for a candidate I did not “like” if their policy stances were superior in my judgment. There, of course, is the flaw — “in my judgment.”

Bottom line it, Big Red Car

Bit of a suggestion:

 1. I urge my fellow citizens to study the candidates and their campaign promises — their proposed policies.

 2. Consider if your candidate will actually transform campaign promises into law or executive orders.

 3. Go to their websites and see what they say when dressed up in their tuxedos and ball gowns. Know it will never get better than this.

 4. Think about who they think they represent. See if you are in that group.

 5. Think whether this person can actually do the job. Hey — there are a number of candidates who are incapable of doing the job regardless of how much you applaud their policies and personality. Know this and be careful.

 6. Cast an informed vote. Feel free to cast a vote against an opponent, but know why you are doing that and that you are doing that.

Then, take a second and be grateful that we live in a country that has peacefully changed its leadership — no tanks in Lafayette Park — since 30 April 1789. Our first President, George Washington was inaugurated on that date in Federal Hall in New York, then the nation’s capitol. Did you know the capitol was in NY?

Last thought — I do not intend to die on the hill of politics. I love a good, spirited debate, and I respect emotional engagement. But, I do not intend to evoke extreme thinking or words in the course of something that should be “ordinary” in our constitutional representative republic. I will study the policy harder than the average person. My opinion will be informed.

Do not be a coward and be afraid to engage in spirited debate. Politics should be debated and not conjured up in an echo chamber. Be fearless, but polite.

But, hey, what the Hell do I really know anyway? I’m just a Big Red Car. Be fearless, but polite. Is this a great country or what?