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by Jennie S. Bev

Mike Huckabee. Mitt Romney. Hillary Clinton. Barack Obama. These four presidential candidates’ names have been spotlighted here and there, near and far, online, on TV and in print. These names have been echoing in our minds, but apparently the national campaign is not going to subside anytime soon. If the presidential campaign were a high school popularity contest, these four would have already won it. Or at least, they would be the finalists.

By the same token, Americans are so fed up with President Bush and his Bushism. His casualties can found everywhere. Political casualties. Legal casualties. Economic casualties. All kinds of casualties. You name it.

Being popular might sound like a good start, and it might bear favorable fruit in the end. But hey, this is not high school. We should be aware of what is going on and who would make a better president than Bush. It might not be hard to be better than him, as he has reached the pit of his unpopularity, but we need to be extra sure about it.

In short, let’s make sure not to let another president run amok. Vote wisely, whoever it is you are choosing. I do not endorse any candidate, nor do I intend to do so later, simply because I do not want to be responsible when the elected president turns out to be running amok again.

How can we be sure that we have voted for the right candidate? There is no guarantee. It is 50 percent due diligence on our part and 50 percent accountability from them.

People change, and politicians are known to have their own superfluous rhetorical style. Recognizing bias and "framing" statements would be a good start. As George Orwell once wrote in his masterpiece, Politics and the English Language, "If thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought. A bad usage can spread by tradition and imitation, even among people who should and do know better."

Next, dig out the candidates’ past words and actions. In this Internet age, it is quite practical to find what these candidates have said and how they acted upon it. If you have not subscribed to your local library membership, do so now. Use ProQuest and other databases with the candidates’ names as keywords to begin with. Cross check between what the press has cited and reported and the candidates’ actions. Dates are important, so be aware of any discrepancies.

Finally, synthesize all information from various sources and create mental impressions of the candidates. Write them down and compare one candidate with the others. Be mindful of your choices; don’t just vote based on popularity and one or two issue stances. You should vote based on his or her overall package: values, activism, integrity, accountability and personality.

We don’t want the next president to run amok. Once is enough.[]

Tracy Press, January 5, 2008

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