Endorsing candidates in primary season


You may have noticed that I have been publicly “silent” during this primary season regarding my stance on the various candidates and elections.

That is not to say, however, that I have not given my support through donations and personal volunteer efforts, for, indeed, I have. And it is my personal conviction that one ought to be involved in, or at least be cognizant of the process in which their representatives are being chosen. There is simply too much at stake.

That being said, there are at least three reasons why I have chosen not to voice my opinion on the various primary races.

In the first place, I want to guard against negative political rhetoric as much as I can. It seems almost inevitable that when political races are close, or get heated, they also get personal and nasty, and it’s just something that turns me off — especially when such rhetoric is between members of the same party.

As much as I can, I want to refrain from undermining candidates who generally share my concerns as it relates to the policies that will affect us as citizens. I do not take it lightly that negative rhetoric adds to the arsenal that those of opposing viewpoints will eventually use to caricature those with whom they disagree.

The second reason I stay away from public comments during primary races is that I generally do not know everything that I want to know about each candidate yet, particularly if they are new to politics and don’t have a record from which I can extrapolate how they might vote on legislation and key issues.

I think that the old adage that past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior is instructive. On this note, it is important to distinguish between a candidate’s rhetoric, and their behavior, or past actions.

In the absence of such a record, I cautiously “listen” to discern candidates’ guiding philosophy, and not get caught up in their rhetoric, which could be subject to change. Just consider the numerous politicians who have made promises, or even lied, to the electorate just to get their votes. And, consider further, the deleterious effects of electing candidates with unproven records.

A final reason that I refrain from giving public endorsements for primary elections is related to the first two. That is, I simply find it difficult to give public endorsements.

This is because I rarely agree with all the positions of any candidate, and I find it difficult to wholly align myself under those circumstances. If someone asks me who I am voting for, as several have, I gladly share why I am for a candidate and not why I am against others.

So, instead of trying to tell people who to vote for, I am much more comfortable arguing the merits, or lack thereof, of policy initiatives.

In so doing, my aim is to share my perspective on issues (not candidates themselves) and allow others to come to their own conclusions on the issue, having been informed. Maybe this position will change in time, but this is where I stand today.

Given the plethora of candidates that we have running for state Senate, U.S. Senate, the school board, etc., one can give many reasons why they would vote for a particular candidate over another. And believe me, I do have my favorites.

In the primary season, however, I choose to let candidates “elect themselves” based on their records, their current performance, and campaigning efforts.

However, when the general election cycle begins and the line of demarcation between political philosophies and records are clear, my abstention in voicing my political advocacy ends.

So, let the general elections begin!

[Bonnie B. Willis is co-founder of The Willis Group, LLC, a Learning, Development, and Life Coaching company here in Fayette County and lives in Fayetteville along with her husband and their five children.]