We just swore in the winners of the 2018 contentious midterms, and our government just made a deal to suspend the longest shutdown in history. However, another topic is in focus — the 2020 presidential election.
Several Democratic contenders crowd the field of potential candidates through announcing presidential exploratory committees and the start of their campaigns for president that it can be tough to differentiate their objectives and motivations for running.
Here is why you should research the candidates:
1. It is important to know where they align with your values.
Keep in mind that no one candidate will ever align with or have exactly your same values, but that is no excuse for not doing your research. Knowing where candidates stand on issues that are important to you is essential because your candidate should embody at least some of your values. While no candidate is also perfect, you want to be informed to make the best decision come Election Day.
2. You need to know candidates’ track records and voting history
Knowing their track record and viewpoints will give you an idea of how they will govern but also know that views can change. Senator Chuck Schumer who has recently rejected President’s Trump’s plan to fund the border wall used to be for supporting the limits of entry for illegal immigrants in the United States, according to a 2009 speech he gave at Georgetown University. Now, he vehemently rejects Trump’s border funding proposal. In a country that is obsessed with what people say and being politically correct, actions speak louder than words.
In a country that is obsessed with what people say and being politically correct, actions speak louder than words.
If candidates have already had a career or experience in public service, their voting records are available online. By directly examining and evaluating congressional or Senate websites, you can access roll call votes and see which bills and laws for which your candidates sponsor and advocate. Why look at the congressional and Senate websites directly? This way, you do not just leave it to news outlets and other third-party sites to do your work for you because chances are they report on a partisan angle and editorialize votes. You might find that candidates vote separately from party lines. Everyone was shocked for example when late Senator John McCain voted against repealing the Affordable Care Act. He historically broke with his party and voted independently despite the pressure he received to vote in line with his party.
3. Follow the money — know who backs your candidate
Investigating campaign finance data gives you the awareness that candidates have many different influencers. It is essential to know which groups support them and give money to them because it shows who has the potential to influence and shape policy. Organizations such as Emily’s List or the National Rifle Association may release ads on behalf of candidates or fund specific candidates that will vote in accordance with their agendas. While candidates may act independently of different organizations and do not necessarily act in tandem with them, it is wise to know who has a vested interest. Candidate committees are also required to report contributions over a certain limit by law and therefore disclose precisely from whom they are accepting money.
4. Find out if they have the experience to add value to the country
As Commander in Chief, it is essential that the next President demonstrates that they have the best interests of the United States of America in mind and can act on those best interests based on their experience. Have the candidates had experience leading an organization? What have they actually accomplished? How long have they held their roles and expanded in their career? President Trump proved that a career in politics was not necessary to become president. Are you a person of action or are you hesitant to take action? Do you work towards solutions or do you work to divide and to isolate? Asking these questions about candidates can give you an idea of what type of leader they would be.
5. If they are on the campaign, chances are they will be involved in the president’s administration
When you campaign for a candidate, you get to know the candidate’s goals, objectives, and style, so often people on campaigns play roles in the official administration. Those on campaigns also set the tone for the next administration because they influence the candidate in all facets of communication and decision-making, and they have spent a lot of time with the candidate on the campaign trail. The candidate on a campaign should have different advisors that become administrative officials, and it is important to have a variety of advisors so that the candidate is well prepared and informed regarding various issues and decisions.
6. Find out what the candidate’s vision is for our country
Does the candidate have goals and objections that are best for the safety and security of the United States of America? A leader makes the decisions that are best for its constituents; so, thinking about the end goal of the president’s role allows you the criteria in which to evaluate the candidates. Does the candidate want the United States to be closed in on itself or help promote diplomacy and relationships with other countries? Does the candidate have the best interest to protect the life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness for the citizens of the United States of America?
By doing your research on the plethora of candidates, you will be able to be informed and pick the best individual for president. With the knowledge that you find, do not squander it. Put it into action—get out the vote. Voting is a right and a privilege that many people wish they had. Use it, and use it well to elect the next President in 2020.