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Tuesday, January 08, 2008



A good friend of mine, Anne Lieberman, wrote an interesting piece at her blog on the differences between the Republican and Democratic candidates for their respective party nominations for President. You can read it here. http://bokertov.typepad.com/btb/2008/01/democrats-are-m.html

It got me thinking about the method my wife and I use to select candidates that we will support, in both local and national elections. We do try to achieve agreement, so that our votes don’t offset each other, and usually wind up with the same candidate. I thought I would share this method of selection, in hopes that it would assist some of the undecided voters facing the very serious task of exercising the most important right we have, that of selecting the people who will represent us, and make decisions affecting our lives, our city, our state and our nation.

In the interest of full disclosure, we are both registered as Republicans, but never vote strictly on party affiliation. Rather, we make every attempt to be objective, and base our preference on actual positions. Before retirement, my years as a financial analyst and system administrator have had a profound impact on the way I make decisions of importance. Therefore, this method may prove useful to any reader, regardless of political persuasion.

We each make a list of the ten issues that are most important to us, and can actually be affected by the candidate for whatever elective office we are rating. We rank these ten issues with a weighted score of 1 to 10. The most important issue has a point value of 10; the least important has a point value of 1. A perfect score on all issues would result in a score of 55 points from each of us. I would mention at this point that no candidate for any office we have rated ever achieved an individual score of 55, let alone a combined score of 110. Using all informational assets available, we research each candidate’s position on these issues. Since we are both Chicago born skeptics, we not only look at statements, speeches and position papers from the current campaign, but also view their past positions and voting records, to determine their commitment to their present positions.

After we have each worked separately, and scored the candidates appropriately, we combine our scores for each candidate. If there is any significant disparity in our selection, we discuss where the divergence lies, and work to resolve the differences. Usually, we are able to agree on a single candidate, and vote accordingly.

We do have several simple rules to our methodology. One is that we will not vote for any candidate who scores less than 56, out of a total of 110 possible combined points. This rarely happens, but is not unheard of. In the 1996 presidential election scoring, Bob Dole scored 48 on our combined ratings, and Bill Clinton scored 45. After discussion, we agreed on a write in candidate, and voted neither Republican nor Democratic in that election. On each issue, there are only two possible point values. For example, if the issue is illegal immigration, and it is rated as the third most important to us, the candidate can either get an 8 or a 0 from each of us. In other words, we either agree with the candidate’s position, or we don’t. There is no equivocation or ‘spinning’ in our system. We leave that to the politicians.

I don’t make the claim that this is a perfect system, but it does work for us. It provides us with at least a semblance of objectivity rather than partisanship, and induces us to research candidates on their records and positions, rather than rhetoric and personality. The most important aspect, at least to my bride and I, is that we can and do discuss politics with each other without rancor or argument. That two contentious Chicagoans remain married after 42 years shows that logic based decisions, rather than emotionally based perceptions are better, even if less than perfect.

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