Tuesday, November 13, 2007

For Whom Could I Vote? (4Q07 Edition)

Well, it's getting along towards the real presidential campaign, isn't it? You know that things are getting serious when all the candidates have prostituted themselves so much that the thought of voting for any of them makes you feel like you've bitten into something nasty.

I think these are going to be my guiding prinicples for the coming election. I'm going to assign weightings between 1 and 5 for each of these attributes in an attempt to score the candidates.

  • Character's nice (weight=2), but competence (weight=5) trumps character every time.

  • Appropriate hawkishness is a hugely important attribute in a president (weight=5). You can't be afraid to use the military, but you can definitely overdo it.

  • All other things being equal, it's good when a candidate has an identifiable philosophy of government with a track record behind it (weight=1). But I'm not too worried when candidates flip-flop for politically whorish reasons.

  • Foreign policy really does require nuance (weight=4). Part of that nuance is the recognition that diplomacy consists of 10% direct negotiations and 90% soft- and hard-power exercise.

  • Domestic issues matter (weight=3), especially on health care and energy.

  • Free trade and a minimum of regulation have produced more wealth than all the social programs in history (weight=4). NB: Regulation is essential. It's just that it's really hard to get right, tends to be enacted too soon, and doesn't get reformed quickly enough once its problems have been identified.

  • I mildly prefer strongly secular candidates (weight=2). I'm perfectly happy with religious candidates who happen to be secular.

  • I don't care about abortion (weight=0). I don't care about gay marriage (weight=0). I do care a little bit that candidates adopt a laissez-faire attitude to most social engineering (weight=2).

  • I want to be left alone, mostly. I'm OK paying reasonable progressive taxes (probably somewhat more than now). But I want small, vaguely libertarian government (weight=3).

  • Finally, there's that likability factor, sort of a gut feel. I'd be lying if I didn't give that a lot of weight (weight=5).

So, built a spreadsheet, rated each candidate on a 5-point scale as best I could, and multiplied by the weights. Frankly, I'm a bit surprised by the results:

I went into this exercise thinking that Clinton was my first choice and Giuliani was a close second. My weightings and scorings tell me something different. I also thought I was more open to the top two Democratic candidates than it appears I am. (Maybe I'm just a libertarian conservative in radical moderate's clothing...)

Obviously, my weightings could be wrong or my scorings could be wrong. But I guess I'm on the record now. I've got some 'splainin' to do to myself.

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