Ideaology vs Character

As we enter into the home stretch of the election cycle, a few things are really starting to leap out at me. One such is our increasing willingness to look more at WHAT a candidate stands for than at WHO that candidate is. If anything about politics in the current era — or any era, really — should have taught us by now is that what someone believes, or says they believe, is only a part of who they are. Sometimes a small part.

We want to think that because our leaders share our core idealogy (conservative, for example), that that person is like you. But that isn’t necessarily true. The candidate might be a conservative, but might also be a coward. A candidate may be “Liberal” but corruptible and without moral center. In my experience, the traits of the individual trump the political leanings every time.

It is the natural position of humanity to gloss over the faults of our leaders. We do it all the time, choosing to put the “good” of a person over the “bad” indiscretions they may have had or mistakes they’ve made. This tendency seems to go into hyperdrive during the political season as each side of the aisle looks for the focal point of their ideaology. The problem we tend to run into is when we focus so much on our need for an idealogical figurehead that we forget about the actual person we are placing that belief in. The bitter truth of the matter is, we don’t elect an idealogy. We elect a person. A belief is unfailing — it can never let you down as long as you continue to believe in it. But a person… well, not one of us is perfect and each one of us have made mistakes.

If you have doubts about a candidate’s character, you’ve got to take that seriously. Immediately take stock of why you’re backing that person. Is it becuase you feel you can trust them, or is it because you think they represent your political beliefs? I’ve known many leaders in my time — a few good and, unfortunately, more bad — and I can assure you, always favor the one you trust. Always. Poltical ideaology is one thing, but personal integrity is the real heart of leadership. If you don’t feel in your gut that a particular candidate has the pure intestinal fortitude to make the right call — not for himself, but for the country — than you might want to reconsider.

When Sen McCain ran against G.W. Bush in the primaries in 2000, he had my full support. I believed in him and I wanted him to win. He didn’t win, though, and that’s a shame. Not just because of a lost opportunity, but because of what it did to the political landscape. When he ran again in 2008, I didn’t vote for him. Why? Because he had altered himself so entirely from his previous run that I couldn’t trust him anymore. You see, he was willing to compromise his integrity to get that nomination, to satisfy “the base.” Some will make excuses for that, saying he had to play the political game to win — I call bull shit on that. You are who you are and you stand and be counted. If the people want you, they will vote for you. All you can be is yourself. To be otherwise is fraud, in my opinion.

The government is “for the people BY the people”, not “for the people BY an ideology.” Know WHO you are voting for, not just WHAT you are voting for.

About Rob McClellan

Rob is the founder of ThirdScribe, a unique author services platform and social network. As a naval officer and diver, he spent a majority of his career doing a lot more than you would think with a lot less than you can imagine -- a skill that has proven extremely valuable in the start-up world. You can follow him on Facebook, Twitter or Google+.

2 Responses to Ideaology vs Character

  1. Rob, I totally agree. Unfortunately your call to vet the candidates has come too late. In the case of President Obama the time was 4 years ago. Nobody looked into him and took him at face value because he made us feel good. Now we know in retrospects that he was raised and mentored by Marxists, he has posted many avowed socialists to his Cabinet and prominent government positions and that he is a compulsive liar. So we can now know what kind of President he is and vote accordingly. On the other side, we have had the opportunity to look at several individuals for the GOP ticket and evaluate their character. Sadly, we again choose the slimy candidate. Why? Not really sure. Maybe because he looks like he could play the part of president in a TV show? Don’t know. Mostly the reason is because people do not do their homework when selecting a nominee. However, we are now stuck with two poor options (third party and independents are not a true option) that represent, more or less, the left and right side of government ideology. At this point in the race the choice is all about ideology because the time for character analysis has past. The right (myself included) has decided that Obama’s character is woefully inadequate for the job of President and that any reasonable alternative is preferable. Do I like Romney? No. I didn’t vote for him and he was darn near last on my list. But he does have one thing in his favor. He’s not a communist. He believes in free markets and our constitution. Does he have the intestinal fortitude to stand firm on those? No idea. But I know that I’d rather give him a shot at it than give Obama 4 more years to destroy our country. I’d rather the one that at least says he agrees with me than the one that has shown in word and deed that he disagrees with the ‘notions’ our country were founded on. I do somewhat disagree that we elected a person not an ideology. I may be cynical here but I think the system is corrupt. We elect a group of people looking for power in the US. They have selected a figurehead (or glommed onto the frontrunner) that will give them the best chance of attaining that power. Obama is a prime example of that. He has been groomed for this for a very long time. His positions are not his own necessarily. They are the consensus of the socialist power players that surround him. He isn’t a puppet, I beleive he agrees wholeheartedly with these people but he is not a primary decision maker. He’s a tool, in every sense of the word. I beleive that people have woken up to the fact that Obama is just another false bill of goods. They are looking at his character and finding it lacking. It will create a vacuum that will suck Romney into the White House. What’s the saying?… Better the Devil you know… I don’t think so in this case. I’ll roll the dice on the Devil we don’t really know yet because the Devil we do know is intolerable. If Mitt turns out to be a coward and a fake I will take some little comfort in knowing that I had to choose between two bad options. History will determine which was the lesser of two evils.

  2. Profile Cover Art

    I don’t think President Obama is either socialist or communist. I do think he’s just left of center and that he’s marching towards the goals he stated when he ran for office. As for those he appointed, I don’t think anyone can say Tim Geitner, Leon Panetta, Tom Vilsac, Arne Duncan or Eric Shinseki are socialists either. Not sure where you’re getting the opinion you have on this, but would love to hear sources.

    Is the President a tool? Great question. One that certainly arose during the G.W. Bush presidency, possibly even the Reagan presidency as well. It’s hard not to think about it when you consider the amount of money it takes to mount a presidential campaign. If I were rich, I don’t think I’d want to invest in a president who would do my bidding — I would invest in one that would leave me alone. I imagine businesses are much more interested in stability and the status quo than in guiding the world — and that includes both “liberal” and “conservative” rich guys — notice they often contribute to both campaigns, hedging their bets.

    In truth, I feel at this point that the Republican politicos are much more puppets than the Democrats, purely because of the extreme voter bloc presented by the Tea Party. The pressure they are putting to bear have little to do with money and much more to do with votes — a trend I’m glad to see, in a way, I just wish it was a weapon wielded by a more rational group. But even the Tea Party is falling into line as the original founders are pushed aside by political power players. Same can be said for Occupy, though their lack of any coherent direction and leadership is making them ineffective as a force.

    I think Obama has done OK. I’m not thrilled, but, I wasn’t with G.W. Bush, either. I think he’s done what he felt was the right thing and I can see the ideas behind much of his moves. Many I agree with, though I think the method was lacking (mainly Obamacare, which I’m still not sold on).

    As for Romney, I have to say his record is very impressive. He looks great on paper. But, I have very little trust in the man. That’s a difficult statement to make, given that I’ve never met him, but it just doesn’t sit right. His demeanor, his gaffes, his awkwardness. He seems very, very detached from America. To me, he seems very much like a man who wants the presidency for the achievement — a merit badge, if you will — not because he wants to lead the free world, much less lead America out of its depression (both financial and emotional). It doesn’t smell right, and I don’t think I’ll be voting for him.

    I stayed away from discussing particular candidates in the post because I didn’t want it to be focused on the presidency — there’s plenty of local elections this year and the same criteria apply. Vote for who you feel you can trust. If you don’t feel you can trust either candidate… I don’t know. Lesser of two evils, I suppose.

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