Gary C. Lawrence gave sage advice to young voters in 1972 and it is advice applicable to making wise election decisions today. As the next Republican debate approaches and due to the vast number of candidates vying for attention in what is too often a soundbite forum, there are three things that I keep focusing on when it comes to each candidate’s ability to communicate with voters.
One particular thing Lawrence suggests is:
Watch out for nutshell history, that glib phrase that pretends to adequately encompass a complex topic. …. Scrutinize every slogan. The more clever the phrase, the greater our responsibility to verify its accuracy.
Another important point Lawrence brings up is the deception through drama or the use of sophistry to deemphasize truly important issues:
Some issues lend themselves to dramatization more readily than others. Crime issues, for example, are much easier to emphasize than a complicated economic situation. But the economic issue may be more important in a certain district than the crime issue. Check to be sure the candidates are addressing the issues on the basis of actual importance and not on the basis of ease of emphasis. Especially watch for fear appeals here.
And the last point in Lawrence’s piece I would like to focus on is critically thinking through promises candidates make:
Distinguish between promises of effort and guarantees of end results. A legislator can promise to introduce legislation and work for its passage, but he isn’t in a position to guarantee it becoming law if the executive says he’ll veto it. Similarly, an executive-type officeholder can promise to ask for authority to institute certain programs, but he can’t promise they’ll become fact if his legislature resists. Weigh and analyze promises of effort, but shy away from guarantees.
That brings to me these two, excellent sources for Presidential Candidate Comparisons:
- Conservative Review’s PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES COMPARISON
- Heritage Actions’s PRESIDENTIAL PLATFORM REVIEW
And finally, the same five questions that seem to be the right questions for all candidates to answer in order to be considered as a properly vetted candidate:
- What are you doing or What will you do as a LEADER to limit the size and scope of the federal government and return authority to states and to the American people?
- What are you doing or What will you do as a LEADER to cut taxes and spending and rein in the debt?
- What are you doing or What will you do as a LEADER to get rid of Obamacare and promote healthcare solutions based on free enterprise, not government controls?
- What are you doing or What will you do as a LEADER to protect America from foreign threats, secure the border, and develop a robust, principled foreign policy that puts America first?
- What are you doing or What will you do as a LEADER to ensure that our judges and lawmakers uphold the Constitution of the United States, starting by halting executive overreach?
Correction on December 31: A punctuation and a word omission.