There is much discussion right now about who is going to run for Representative Dan Boren's seat in the Oklahoma 2nd Congressional District since Representative Boren has announced that he will not run for another term. Both the Republican and Democratic parties will apparently have multiple candidates. How does the average voter determine who is the best candidate?
I believe that voters should look for a candidate with a set of core or foundational principles. Particularly for a candidate running for a US House or Senate seat those principles should be written and the candidate should know them by heart. A candidate who is principled does not decide issues on a case by case basis and is not swayed by the expediency of the moment.
At this particular time in our country it is more important than ever to elect candidates whose principles are in line with the ideas upon which this country was founded. A candidate should be familiar with the Founding Fathers and the ideas upon which they established this country. He should be intimately familiar with the US Constitution and the Declaration of Independence and have a general knowledge of documents like the Federalist Papers. He should have read John Locke, Thomas Paine, George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson and Plato. He should be familiar with the history of other Republics, particularly the Greek and Roman experiments with representative government and what brought about their downfall.
This sounds like a lot to expect but we, the American people, deserve no less. Our children deserve no less. Our decisions now about who to send to Washington to represent us will have a tremendous impact on our children's future, probably even more than our own. This has never been more important than it is now. Our country is suffering under the crushing burden of an enormous debt that we must retire or it will be left to our children's generation to deal with. It will take principled men and women to resolve this problem.
So, when you attend a candidate forum or read their comments in the newspaper look for the candidate that knows what his or her principles are. What position to take on an issue will be simple for the candidate who is basing his decision on predefined principles. He will be confident and direct in his response. Many questions will be answered with a simple "yes" or "no" and a brief explanation of the principle that lead him to that position. Long, convoluted, "politicial" answers will not be necessary.
You will know the right candidate when you see these traits.