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I am often amazed and saddened by the criteria used by many people to select a candidate for president of the United States. Some Americans choose a candidate based upon his or her television commercials, political rhetoric, or debate performance. Some people base their choice on their friend’s opinions. Others vote solely on

looks, charismatic personality, or a “feeling” they have about a candidate. And some simply want a change, desiring a candidate who seems to have a fresh, and what they hope will be an effective, approach to governing.

But as reasonable, thinking Americans, we should be voting more wisely, holding to a higher standard when selecting a man or woman to lead our nation. Here are the areas that I think should be the voting points for Americans when evaluating candidates for president.

CHARACTER

A candidate’s sense of morality and an upright character are key elements when making a choice for president and help us to trust our elected leader.

To determine if a candidate is an honorable man or woman, we need to ask a variety of questions such as: What is his family life like? What is her religious affiliation? Has he proven himself to be a faithful husband? And if he erred in the past, has he shown signs of remorse and changed behavior? Does she have a reputation for honesty and discretion? Does the candidate have a history of alcoholism, drug abuse, or gambling addiction? Are his or her business dealings honest and ethical? Has this person exhibited self-control in his actions and speech? And does this person demonstrate genuine kindness and respect toward all people along with an ability to be firm and resolute?

An upright leader with a strong, moral character will not be guided by self-interest but by conviction and a sense of duty toward those he or she represents. Therefore, it is essential that character be a key factor when selecting an elected official.

ISSUES

Understanding where a candidate stands on fundamental issues is also imperative when choosing a president. We should know where a nominee stands on social issues such as abortion, marriage, education, and immigration. We should have a general understanding of his or her fiscal policies regarding national debt and government spending. And it is important to comprehend the various candidates’ viewpoints on a variety of international issues and how they intend to relate to situations on a global level.

While no candidate will match up perfectly with our personal views, it is important to elect someone who aligns as closely as possible. A great place to find out where candidates stand is: http://www.ontheissues.org/default.htm.

EXPERIENCE

Political experience should be another key factor when choosing a president. Just as we wouldn’t allow someone who had never performed surgery to cut us open, we should be wary of selecting a person without political experience to run our nation. The person we elect to lead our country should have a proven record of leadership and governing. We need someone who knows the workings of Congress and how to navigate its complicated processes. We need a candidate with a proven track record for getting bills passed and having his or her policies put into action. It is also essential to have a leader who understands the various personalities of the people he will be dealing with in the Senate and House of Representatives.

It should just be common sense when considering a candidate for any job, especially the presidency of our nation, to evaluate his or her resume to make sure his or her qualifications meet the necessary requirements for the job. We cannot expect a president to excel in his position if he doesn’t fully understand the intricacies of the job and have the experience to perform the work and meet the challenges of this critically important position.

DIPLOMACY

An effective president must be able to extend olive branches and smooth ruffled feathers. He must know how to appease and make reasonable concessions to keep peace. He must understand that he or she will have to work with a wide variety of people with varying views, from many different cultures and belief systems. And he must be able to handle those people tactfully, wisely, and respectfully.

A presidential candidate who knows how to deal with people courteously, without compromising our national integrity, is someone worthy of my vote.

COMMUNICATION

Having been involved in the speech and debate world for many years, I have come to appreciate a dynamic speaker. Our president performs many tasks, but one of his foremost duties is communicating to the American people and to people of other nations. If he stumbles, seems nervous, has a limited vocabulary, easily offends, or can’t effectively express himself, people will lose faith in his ability and misunderstandings may occur.

A powerful speaker can generate enthusiasm and a sense of patriotism. He or she can inspire a nation to rise up and take action. A strong orator can sooth fears and apprehensions, and mend relationships. And an effective communicator can help his constituents to grasp difficulties and comprehend their solutions. Communication is a critical factor and must be taken into consideration in the electoral process.

As Americans we are so blessed to live in a country where we can express our personal opinions by voting for our officials. But with the privilege of voting comes great responsibility and therefore it is essential that American voters be informed voters. To be an informed voter we must examine the various candidates’ character, views on the issues, experience, diplomatic skill, and ability to communicate before making their choice.

Our president holds our future within his or her hands. Shouldn’t we make a wise and informed choice when electing this official to lead our great and glorious nation?

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