Well, here we are in an election year. Many of the

same old things that happen in election years are beginning

to happen again. Candidates showing up on your

doorstep asking for money; positioning by party

regulars around candidates they think will get them the biggest piece of the pie if elected; an elevated number of

political newspaper ads and editorials are running; the hopes of new candidates as high as they will ever be; and the drudgery of the campaign trail for incumbants.

There are many things that we have learned from being

through this process so many times. We know that

somebody is going to be misquoted. We know that

somebody is going to run a strong, well managed

campaign, and somebody will make a poor choice or be caught in some regretable situation. We know that there are those

that research their candidates and vote based on

principle and there are those that listen to the shallow,

irrelevent suggestions by the unresearched.

So what have we learned when it comes to being

educated about who our candidates are and who we should cast

our all important, valued vote in favor of?

The most basic is principle. If we have learned

anything, we have learned that the basic fundamentals

of our world view should direct us first and foremost. If we believe life begins at conception and that life is one

of the unalienable rights granted by God and recognized

in the Declaration of Independence, then we should look for

a candidate that will follow those ideals. If we

believe the tales of shrinking ice caps and man being able to alter the course of God's creation, we should find a

candidate that agrees.

But there is more than principle when it comes to

choosing who will represent us. Principle is first but we

must look at the complete package. We must look at the

candidates personality. We must look at how that

candidate reacts in situations of stress and

discomfort. We must look at the way the candidate

reacts in situations they have faced in the past in

order to predict their reactions in the future. If, under

stress, that candidate remained cool and reserves

emotional judgement until the appropriate time and makes a

logical choice based on sound judgement, then that person has what it takes to represent.

On the other hand, if a candidate is confronted,

countered, or rebuffed, and reacts with anger and emotion and lack of judgement, we know that when sent to Washington, for example, they will more than likely not be able to handle the pressure and in turn, embarrass their

constituants. Telltale signs of these kinds of

candidates are those who spend all their time on

attack mode, not attacking the issues, but vehemently

attacking their opponent. They can be identified by strong,

rash language, including cursing. They have a tendancy

to blame others for everything that might not go their

way and puff up when they do go their way.

As we progress into this season of posturing and

pontifications, accusations and denials, espionage

and subterfuge, it can not be underestimated how important

it is to make sure we have researched the candidates. We

must strive to not be confused by verbal smoke

screens, deceived by election year promises, and temporarily

motivated by emotional outbursts from the uneducated

or inexperienced candidate.