I received an email message from someone, asking for a recommendation as to who they should vote for, in each of the ballot positions in the upcoming Primary election. Because this question touches on a policy of our group, and others may be wondering the same thing, I thought I would post my reply here:
The policy of The 9-12 Project of Central PA is to not endorse any candidate or party. We invite candidates to come speak with us at events, such as our "Candidates Night" a few weeks ago. However, we leave it up to our members to make their own decisions.
As a citizen, if you are going to exercise your right to vote, then you have the responsibility to understand the principles of the people you are voting for. If you just follow the endorsements of your favorite organization, whether that be the Republican or Democratic party, your favorite newspaper or website, or even your local 9-12 or Tea Party group, then you are effectively surrendering your right to vote.
We suggest that you do your research, review any information you can find on a candidate, and even speak with him, if possible. In our area, The League of Women Voters publishes a Voter's Guide in the Centre Daily Times newspaper prior to each election.
If they have held office previously, how have they voted in the past? How do they answer questions asked of them? What views do they promote? How have they run their campaign? How have they treated their opponents? Have they lied, or made contradictory statements? Have they changed their stated views, to suit the audience they are addressing?
While researching the candidates, do not put too much weight on "facts" about a candidate, put out by any organization that opposes that candidate, or has endorsed another candidate.
The point is to gain an understanding of the candidate's core principles. If you understand his core principles, you can likely figure out how he will vote on any current or future issue.
We hope to have a candidate "vetting" survey, in which we ask candidates to answer questions designed to reveal their core principles. That probably will not happen in time for the upcoming primary election, but I believe we will have that ready in time for the general election in November.
This being said, I will provide some advice on how to choose the core principles you are looking for in a candidate:
The founding principles of our country are that people have inherent rights, that such rights are not granted by any government or law, and that the purpose of government is to protect these rights. That is why a free people establish a government and agree to follow the laws that they write. Our country was also established on the principle that government itself is the biggest threat to those same precious rights, and thus a Constitution was written to limit the powers of government.
It is also important to understand what a right is, as that term is often misused. A right is an action for which you do not need someone's permission or license. No right can exist for any individual, that interferes with the rights of another individual.
Those who claim a "right to healthcare" (by which they really mean a "right to have someone else pay for their healthcare") are wrong. In order for government to provide healthcare for one individual, they must deprive another individual of a right - either the doctor's right to freely enter into contracts, or another individual's right to the product of his own work. Government is force. A right to healthcare would mean that force must be applied to one individual, in order to provide a benefit to another. This is NOT freedom!
These principles remain true at all levels of government. The major difference between Federal, State, and Local governments are the powers that each of them have. The Federal Government, being furthest removed from the citizen, was meant to have the most limited powers. (Would that it had remained so!!!) Then, State and Local governments have successively increasing powers, so that the level of government with the most power to affect your life is the one closest to you. But the purpose of government, the protection of rights, remains the same at all levels!
So, I recommend seeking candidates to support whose core principles are most closely aligned with these ideas. Almost all of the problems we face today stem from the fact that we have been electing people who do not believe in this very simple principle:
The only legitimate purpose of government is to protect the individual rights of it's citizens.
Usually, in listening to a candidate's answer to any question about a specific issue, you can determine whether or not that answer is consistent with these principles.
If someone asks two candidates: "What would you do about the problem that there are too many advertisements on TV?"
The first one answers: "People have the right to view their favorite shows without being interrupted with frequent commercials. I would support a law that limits advertising on any TV station to 5 minutes per hour!"
The second one answers: "Government cannot change a TV station's advertising policies without violating somebody's rights. The people have the power to affect the amount of advertising on TV by watching only those stations that have less advertising."
Which answer reflects this country's founding principles?
Which one would you vote for?