This piece is based on material generously contributed by Franklin Countian Audrey Schlote, who recognizes the importance of choosing the best candidate to support. 

Let’s face it: Democrats want a candidate on the ballot for every race. And, that’s the way it should be. It’s important to give voters a choice as to who they want to represent them and their family’s needs. It’s wonderful when our party has people who are willing to step up, raise their hand, and declare, “I’m going to run!” 

But, there are some situations when more than one Democratic candidate is vying for the same office. While that’s a wonderful “problem” to have, voters can often find it difficult to select the one they believe will be the best fit for the job. So the question becomes, “How do I pick the right candidate?” 

Bechdel Test

There are lots of methods we can use. Some are traditional, while others aren’t. Take for example, the Bechdel Test. This instrument measures the quality and quantity of female characters in film, TV, books, and any other conceivable media. It’s been in use for more than 35 years and has become a sort of litmus test for movies today. 

Platform Pair Up

Another way we can determine which Democratic candidate to support is pretty simple: Compare their campaign platform to the Missouri Democratic Party’s platform. Now granted, if the MDP Platform looks a bit dated, that’s because it is–which is why the Platform Committee is working on proposed revisions. That said, voters should look closely and compare each candidate’s key issues and plans for address problems Missourians are facing. Then, they should see how closely the candidate’s values and priorities align with those from the MDP Platform. 

Debate and Dialogue

A third way voters can decide which candidate to support comes through debate and dialogue. We already know that it’s common for politicians to participate in primary and general election debates. Those can be really helpful to see how well each candidate performs under pressure, how articulate they are, and how effectively they can make their point within a very limited amount of time. Remember–by their very nature politicians love to talk, and many are in their Happy Place when their mouth is moving. But, can they say what they need to say clearly and succinctly without all the fluff? 

Voters often benefit the most from the opportunity to actually engage in a dialogue with candidates. Granted, time is limited and politicians have to make the most of every minute, but careful observation outside of a conversation can also be quite helpful. For example, is the candidate truly listening to what people are saying, or is he/she just waiting for the other person to take a breath and then they can resume their comments? Is the candidate focused on the person he/she is speaking with, or are their eyes discretely roving around the room? Does the candidate offer a genuine response to questions, or do comments come across mostly as canned talking points? 

Pay Attention to Your Gut

Politics is big business, and consulting firms have gotten very good over the years at marketing their “product”. As a result, consultants can “create” a candidate based on polling data and test markets. As voters, we have to be careful not to throw our support behind someone who may only be playing a role just to get elected. The best rule of thumb? Follow your instincts. Listen to that little voice inside. Our psyche can often pick the best candidate long before we do. 

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The Franklin County Democratic Central Committee meets the last Monday of each month. Due to COVID, meetings are currently being held via Zoom. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter

Graphic Credit: Unknown