Ryan Bland ‘21 News reporter
When we vote, we are often not voting for the perfect candidate. Sometimes, even both are less than ideal. Nevertheless, in general elections, we should vote for the better of the two options who have a legitimate chance of winning. For me, the guiding principle in my decision is whichever candidate has all Americans’ best interests in mind. While this concept may seem broad and surely dependent on each person’s idea of “best interest,” looking for this quality in a candidate consistently leads me to find those capable of leading effectively and morally.
First and foremost, a candidate must be willing to take action to solve pressing and imperative issues. Right now, one of those issues is climate change. Someone hesitant to take action against a problem as substantial as climate change does not have Americans’ best interests in mind, as the solution is essential for the well-being of future generations. The lack of action reflects a candidate’s unwillingness to tackle difficult issues, and more broadly, to prioritize Americans’ needs.
In addition, a candidate should balance pragmatism and progress. Although extremely progressive ideas may sound good, I find many of these ideas to be unrealistic. It is a key duty of public servants to recognize the potential and ability of an idea to help. Politicians who propose ideas that cannot be translated into action distract from issues and legislation that might genuinely help Americans. This is why being pragmatic in governing is so critical: it distinguishes unrealistic plans and philosophies from those that can be accomplished. However, candidates that prioritize the people’s interests cannot stick to pragmatism only. Instead, they have to find a balance between pragmatic and progressive ideas. Ideas that do not make substantial progress accomplish just as little as those that are too aggressive. Candidates that satisfy a moral imperative take action against critical issues through pragmatic yet progressive means.
Lastly, a candidate that has Americans’ best interests in mind is one who is empathetic, understanding, and humble. Aside from the previous action-based qualities, these personal qualities are also of utmost importance. A candidate’s ability to connect with and understand the Americans they represent is critical to being successful as a public servant. Additionally, their ability to recognize that they alone cannot be successful is essential. These three qualities have far-reaching effects, such as a candidate’s ability to effectively take action and surround themselves with good advisors, and must be considered when trying to determine which candidate will help the American people the most.
Overall, my moral imperative as a voter is to determine which candidate will have the American people’s best interests in mind while serving in office. Their willingness to take action toward key issues, how they balance pragmatism and progression, and their personal qualities of empathy, understanding, and humility are all key indicators to which candidate will serve the people best. Disregarding any of these qualities will not only lead to ineffective leadership but will also put any already-established progress at risk.