How to Vote with the Spinning Cook
Choosing a federal, state, or local candidate can feel like a choice between 20-ingredient casseroles. Someone will be elected, and with them a host of promises, positions, ideologies, priorities, skills, strengths, weaknesses, and donor lists…will march into office. This is not a custom-order omelet, and we don’t get a line-item veto. One casserole will be served, and there’s no ability to pick out the parts we don’t like.
Not all politics are this ambiguous, and in many ways I am a big fan of individual ballot measures where we vote directly on issues. And if you haven’t seen my piece on California’s Proposition 37 issue regarding genetically-modified foods, please take a look – it’s an important result which will affect all of us.
But candidates are complex and multi-faceted, and for this reason I’m asking myself one core question, to cut through the noise and guide my vote.
Which candidate will do the best job, to serve and represent the people?
Think of it like a job interview; who would you hire? With all the zingers and foot-in-mouth moments (binders full of women, anyone?) it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that these are essentially jobs, difficult and important jobs requiring great skill, focus, and intentions to perform well.
John Kitzhaber impressed me two years ago with his notebook. Campaigning in Oregon for his third term as governor, he diligently recorded constituent input. Not very high-tech perhaps, but isn’t that the kind of person you would hire? So another way to ask the question might be, what’s in your candidate’s notebook (or iPad)? Women? Sorry, couldn’t resist. Attack strategies? Requests from corporations, their lobbyists, and other big donors? Or the needs of constituents, the real problems which need solving for the good of the people they will represent?
We shouldn’t make hiring decisions without first checking references, and for established candidates there are some great websites which can tell you what kind of job your politicians have been doing. If food issues matter to you, please check out http://FoodPolicyAction.org, which analyzes votes on food-related bills to provide a report card for incumbents.
What other resources do you use to inform your vote? And what other core questions do you ask yourselves? Does mine make sense?
Most importantly, please get out there and enjoy your right to vote. And may the best casseroles, I mean candidates, be hired.