Shopping for a Candidate? 5 Things NOT to Do.

By Amit Thakkar | LawMaker, Founder & CEO | February 27, 2019

The 2020 election cycle is ramping up and things are about to get loud.

More know-nothing pundits, more water-cooler punditry, and more people telling you that the candidate you like is a sell-out, a puppet, a bleeding-heart, a fascist — or even worse — a moderate. We’re facing months full of sound and fury — signifying nothing.

But this past week, there was one small refrain of responsibility cutting through the noise. It seems that Michelle and Barack Obama (she wrote a recent best-seller, and he’s married to her and likes to kite-surf) have indicated that they don’t plan to endorse any of the presidential candidates running for the 2020 Democratic nomination. Instead, according to The Hill, the author’s husband is “happy to speak privately with candidates seeking his guidance on the best way to lead the country.”

What a relief! It’s great that the Obama’s have resisted the pressure to take a side, and instead are offering experienced counsel to any of the hardworking patriots throwing their hats in the ring.

So Mr. and Mrs. Obama, I hope you don’t find me ungrateful when I say — CAN YOU PERHAPS DO THE SAME FOR THE REST OF US?!

Allow me a moment to be selfish for the rest of America. While I welcome the reprieve from another politician telling us who to vote for, perhaps the Obamas could honor the public with a little advice that can actually help us through the next 20 months. Mainly, how the hell does an average American choose from among 15–20 candidates for office?

Most of America could use some good suggestions right now. Not merely on how to parse the growing choir of left-leaning candidates, but solid suggestions on how any American can determine for which candidate it’s worth casting their vote, be they Democrats, Republicans, or none of the above (can I offer anyone a venti coffee billionaire?).

But since the Obama’s aren’t taking my calls right now (I think they must be in a very long tunnel), allow me to provide some non-partisan advice to any of you who may not know how you’re going to navigate the next 20 months of politicking, exaggerations (lies), misstatements (more lies) and attack ads (lies with dramatic music). I present to you, LawMaker’s Oh-Crap-It’s-Election-Time Guide — Part I: 5 Things NOT To Do When Shopping for a Candidate.

1. Don’t choose based on the superficial: race, gender, how they eat pizza…

I’ll admit, I am still excited to one day have a female president. But choosing your candidate based on what they look like has got to be one of the stupidest ways to cast your vote. Someone like me, for instance, would be better served by voting for someone with a concrete plan to narrow the gender pay gap, to secure paid family leave for all families, and to, you know, protect our economy and national security from all enemies, foreign and domestic.

Voting for someone because of their superficial identity is not a reliable shortcut to determine how they’ll govern. It’s like assuming a vegan president is going to do awesome things for the broccoli industry or napalm the meat industry (and only idiots would claim something like that).

Choose your candidates based on their concrete policy ideas, period.

2. Don’t worry about electability (for now).

Please, oh please, stop talking about a candidate’s “electability”.

Keep something in mind: by this point in the 2016 election cycle, Donald Trump hadn’t even announced his candidacy (and still wouldn’t for another 4 months). You, your Facebook friends, late night hosts, and the talking heads on TV have no idea who is and isn’t electable. If the 2016 election taught us one thing, it’s to judge electability by how many votes someone gets on Election Day.

If you like a candidate right now, don’t be dissuaded from donating time, money, or support just because they don’t fit someone else’s arbitrary metric for electability.

And stop, just stop, telling other people their candidate isn’t electable. Real political experts can’t determine electability at this stage in the game, and neither can you. And we’re all better served if we make that call just a week before a primary or an election, when reliable polls, concrete policy platforms, financial disclosures (ahem, tax returns), and rigorous debates have all been publicly consumed.

We could all do away with the electability debate once and for all, if the US would just adopt a small election tweak like ranked choice voting (aka instant run-off voting). It would ensure that all Americans could vote for who they wanted without worrying about effectively supporting a candidate they really don’t want to see in office. I you don’t know what ranked choice voting is, it’s time to learn about it by clicking here.

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Amit Thakkar

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