Tuesday, September 13, 2011

How to Choose? Evaluating GOP Presidential Candidates


With 14 months to go before the next Presidential election, the media and pundits are in a frenzy, anxiously attempting to choose President Obama’s opponent. Republican Presidential candidate debates may be found on TV once a week, while social media is abuzz with supporters and detractors of every candidate and issue.

At this point in the political process, five months before the first primary election, I welcome the media attention on all Presidential candidates. Many argue the media failed in this regard toward then-freshman Senator Obama in 2008.  Journalists Tom Brokaw and Charlie Rose discussed how they still did not know much about Obama or his beliefs just days before the 2008 election.  This lack of information should be unacceptable to us as voters.  Since our Presidential campaign season lasts well over a year, we should know where each candidate stands on every important issue before ever casting a single vote.

It is our job, as voters, to understand and know our candidates as well as possible before walking into the voting booth. Gov. Perry, Gov. Romney, Rep. Bachmann, and all GOP candidates probably welcome the scrutiny because withstanding it will prove each of them to be a worthy competitor and candidate in the general election against President Obama. Voters need to be able to discern who they are voting for, particularly how that person expects to lead our nation if elected. 

How to Discern the Candidates
 We need to be responsible in evaluating our own beliefs, ideology, values and morals, develop positions on pertinent issues, and prioritize which issues are most important toward earning our vote. Then we will be able to closely examine the truth about each candidate in relation to our top tier issues. Where does each of them stand, both on their record and in stated campaign promises. What do they believe?  How does a candidate’s stance on big issues align with our own?  No one candidate is going to be “perfect,” or vote “perfectly” on all my issues or values. If perfect candidates existed, and everyone agreed what “perfect” meant, there would be no need for politics or elections. So, we must know which issues are most important to each of us, individually, in what will influence our decisions for support and vote.  This is an individual evaluation, decision and choice. 

An important part of evaluating a candidate is to look beyond what the media or political pundits say about a candidate. We cannot just take their word for it, but must watch and listen to the candidate for ourselves. This is why it’s important to seek out articles and other items written by the individual, before they were a candidate, go through their past record of leadership, or speak to someone who lived in their state or district while they were in office. 

Texas Governor
In the case of Governor Perry, Shelly and I have the benefit of having lived in this state where he has been Governor for the last eleven years. I don’t need the media or pundits to tell me how he governs or how to interpret his governance.  Watching him on debates or in interviews, I recognize decisions he’s made throughout his term that I agreed or disagreed with. Now, I must decide how his total leadership as Governor, and potential leadership as President, fits in line with my top tier issues. Are his deficits, in my opinion, enough to outweigh all the things I agree with him on? 

As Governor, Perry impressed me more and more over the last several years. He stood strong in his beliefs of fiscal responsibility, limited government regulations, American exceptionalism, and strong pro-life convictions. His Presidential announcement speech given in South Carolina spelled out many of the values, priorities and core beliefs he followed in governing the state of Texas.  Read it for yourself to get an introduction into Rick Perry’s vision for America and a glimpse into his core beliefs.  

The next step is to see where Governor Perry places on my issues list when I line him up against the other candidates. There are things I like, if not love, about each Republican candidate.  But, since I do not know the other candidates as well as Governor Perry, it is an ongoing process to examine each of them, look at their records and listen to their words to see how they measure against my own top tier issues.

Thankfully, we still have many months to evaluate each of the candidates for ourselves before we walk into a voting booth. In the meantime, I will take the time to examine each candidate’s beliefs, principles and integrity as it aligns with my core beliefs and priority voting issues.  As I find candidates whom I believe may be a strong leader for our great nation, I will offer them my support to help them stay in the race until election time.
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