As a voter, I have been extremely nonpartisan ever since I first became eligible to vote. I proudly vote for Democrats, Independents, and Republicans in whatever combination makes sense - based on (a) an examination of where candidates stand on issues and (b) my level of confidence in their ability to do what they say they want to do.
We now have a choice among four candidates: Barack Obama; Hillary Clinton; John McCain; and Mitt Romney.
I will compare them on perhaps 15 to 20 criteria. Some of these criteria appear below, in case you might find them helpful as you make your choice about the next U.S. President.
Consensus-building. Which candidate can most effectively bring people together - internationally, to address worldwide issues affecting humanity - nationally, to form multi-partisan strategies to achieve our goals - locally, to facilitate collaboration among increasingly diverse communities across the United States?
Pork/Earmarks. Which candidate has the courage to stand up against favoritism and against irrational systems of allocating our national resources? Who is willing to pioneer better ways to address issues and make our government more efficient and effective by taking action to eliminate earmarks and to transform the government bureaucracy?
Environment. We all live in the environment. The environment affects everything we do - locally, nationally, and internationally. We can't replace it with anything else. We can only care for it. Which candidate offers the soundest approach to addressing global warming, energy use, water and air resources, in cooperation with our fellow inhabitants of this earth in other nations? Which candidate will promote wise use of land to save energy and improve air and water quality?
Health Care Coverage for All. Everyone deserves adequate health care. After living in Europe for a year, I realized how shameful it is that we, in the United States, have such a large portion of our population who lacks access to health care. Which candidate can achieve the health care coverage we need in this country? (Although I'm not my sharing ratings of any specific candidates, I will say that none of them has so far proposed a plan for health care that seems both effective and feasible. However, I could be wrong and will continue to analyze this.)
Education Gap. We have two gaps - internal and external. Within this country, Persons of Color constitute our fastest growing populations. They will make up many of the leaders of the future, the workers of the future, the parents of the future. Sadly, our systems have not brought their level of educational achievement up to the level of the White population. Which candidate will best promote school readiness (of both the students and the schools)? Which candidate will best elevate our educational systems? Which candidate will lead the way to ensure that all children graduate from high school, ready for post-secondary education? Externally, some evidence exists that other nations' educational systems out-perform ours. Which candidate can change this, so that we remain on a par with other countries?
The Vulnerable. Our compassion and care for the vulnerable within our communities make up one defining element of our culture. Which candidate offers the clearest vision, and the most feasible approaches, for building the capacity of vulnerable people and enabling them to live with dignity? Whether social spending increases, remains level, or decreases, money is not the answer; creativity, energy, and commitment are what we need.
Housing. A last item I'll mention is housing. Which candidate offers the best strategy for our housing markets and systems to create an adequate supply of housing, accessible to people at all income levels?
Well, as you participate in primaries or caucuses, and as you make your decisions as a voter, I hope you apply these and other criteria, to take a thorough look at who can best provide the leadership we need.