I had the opportunity to pull the candidate aside and speak privately with him for a few minutes. Although the gentleman seemed nice enough, it's hard to get to know someone when they're in full "campaign mode."
This brings up a couple of questions.
First, is it important to really know a candidate who's running for public office, and second, how inseparable is a candidate's personal beliefs from their political office (public office, I might add)?
Unfortunatly, I can't answer these questions for you... They are personal decisions that you'll have to make when you enter the ballot booth.
Let's add to this... Would you vote for somebody just because your friends ask you to? Beyond that, would you vote for somebody because your local police department endorses that person?
I'm probably never going to get 15 minutes with any of the next presidential candidate to actually "meet" them, but that doesn't change the criteria. Are you going to vote for somebody because of a letter behind their name (R or D)?
Here's another thought... When you see a candidate on TV or on a sign, does it bother you as much as it does me to see a "canned statement" behind their campaign?
For example, we've all seen signs similar to "Joe Shmoe - Because he believes in America."
Are you going to automatically assume the other guy doesn't believe in America?
In the case of the candidate I met, he mentioned that he wants to restore inegrity to the office. Great, but the other guy states almost the same thing in his mission statement. (I must add that going into this, I have very little background information on either candidate or incumbant).
Here's where it gets a bit personal for me... I actually got the opportunity to sit down and talk to the candidate. And, after a few minutes about family, the job, and life... I still have very little background information about the candidate. But I can tell you some names and groups that are endorsing him and a canned statement about his campaign.
So, how do we ever know what we're voting for? How does this great American process even work?
I wish I had the answers.
Incidentally, this candidate's campaign manager discussed a couple ideas she had about making the entire election process a bit more fair--including limited campaign contributions to level playing grounds. Although it would put her out of a job, something she said she'd be fine with, I think I could get behind the idea.