Picking a President: Experience, Character, Party?

Here’s what I find frustrating and challenging about the onset of another presidential election: I get caught up in all kinds of personality and horse-race questions (see recent posts) that should really come after I make some decisions of my own. I decided some years ago that I would no longer vote for anyone simply because of party, a rule I’ve stayed with for the most part. I’ve also tried, with some success, to resist the lure of “mere” personality (and, conversely, to remain open to candidates who seem to lack all personality).

Still, as the campaign hubbub builds, I feel the cart is getting way ahead of the horse. How can I reasonably choose between Duncan Hunter’s health plan and Rudy G’s health plan, or between Obama’s immigration plan and Ron Paul’s (if he has one), before first deciding what I think is the best approach, and what priority to give that issue?

 For example, it may be clear that John Edwards is The Man when it comes to lashing bidness fat cats, but what if “lashing bidness fat cats” is #11 on my priority list? Shouldn’t I first pick my vital issues, then ask which candidate, if any, seems to have a shot at moving the ball on that issue? 

 And how can I weigh the merits of Romney’s 23-point health plan if I’ve never given any thought to what should be on his health plan? In the general cry for “change,” let’s not forget that change can be negative as well. It could certainly be the case that on some issues, the status quo is the best we can expect, and the Change-Change-Change might actually take us backwards.

I’m going to try to do that in some of the blog entries over the next few weeks (clever name of series to come). It may be that some personal clarity on these confusing issues is all we can expect.

 So I’ll

1) Pick an issue,

2) ask what a desirable outcome would be,

3) ask if there is any serious chance of movement on the issue, and

4) if there is, which candidate might make things a bit better?

All that and more to come.

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