This year may perhaps be the most critical presidential election in our nation’s history. This is compounded by the reality that many Americans are confused as to which candidate they can believe and trust.
The various campaigns and political parties, facilitated by a biased press, don’t seek to carefully clarify but to cleverly confuse. It is sad, but true. To counteract this issue, I’ve used a simple and highly effective method to not only clarify the quality of candidates, but to establish a mutually transparent methodology that measures a candidate’s actions in office and defines legitimate voter expectations.
First, the election process inherently possesses two basic components with commensurate expectations and duties:
1.) the voters, who rightly possess legitimate expectations as to how the candidate will vote and to what extent that candidate will carry out their promises to the voters and fulfill their oath to support and defend the Constitution;
2.) the candidates themselves who, if elected, must establish some framework within which they will determine how they must balance the nuances of complex votes, the manipulations of party leadership, media bias, and expectations from donors to name just a few.
Second, the term between elections is when the voters’ expectations are fulfilled or dashed, and when trust develops or cynicism reigns. It is the time that most elected officials “do their own thing” and bank on the fact that voters won’t remember the bad votes cast early in the term. For elected officials, it is the time where they stand on principle and retain their integrity or prostitute their integrity for promises from political leadership, threats from donors, or enticements from lobbyists.
I’ve learned that in the end, the only thing that the Establishment and the corrupters in the system value for any elected person (whether a U.S. senator or U.S. congressman) is that person’s vote. They will barter for the vote any way they can. The vote is the one pure item of value the elected person has.
The solution to keeping this purity and developing trust can be simple. A “Voting Integrity Checklist” can operate as straightforward framework for qualifying voter expectations, as well as providing a greatly needed guideline for every public official who chooses to uphold a standard of integrity and virtue, or chooses to stoop to bribery and corruption and sell his or her virtue.
In reality, if our constitutional republic will remain, the voter must not ask for nor expect what a candidate (government) can’t legitimately deliver. And every elected official must not promise to give what is not ethically or constitutionally available to give. Anything less than this standard will breed bribery, corruption, quid pro quo and the ultimate destruction of justice, virtue, and integrity which rests upon freedom and liberty.
Here is the “Voting Integrity Checklist” below that I developed for personal use while in the Pennsylvania General Assembly, which was adopted by other members. I also used it when I ran for governor in 2010 and the U.S. Senate in 2012. I can say without exception that this checklist works. It protects, defines and provides the simplest prioritized expectations for voters and for candidates.
Voter Integrity Checklist:
1.) Is it moral?
2.) Is it constitutional?
3.) Does it preserve individual freedom and responsibility (vs. strengthening government control)?
4.) Does it preserve and strengthen the traditional family?
5.) Is it in the best interest of the general public (vs. only special interests)?
6.) Is it necessary?
7.) Should it be done on the federal level?
8.) Is this an effective and efficient way to do it?
For the office holder, this “Voting Integrity Checklist” provides freedom and a pathway to walk. It provides the basis built on unchanging principles that will permit a 25- or 30-year rearview analysis to always be correct. For the voter, the “Voting Integrity Checklist” offers assurance, accountability, and predictability — which leads to trust.
Isn’t this what every concerned citizen wants? Isn’t this what every office holder with integrity should desire and what every voter should demand?
If these elements became matters of discussion for candidate measurement, and if candidates adopted these simple things, we would see corruption destroyed, justice restored, faith in government renewed, and God’s blessings returned.
Hon. Sam Rohrer is president of the American Pastors Network, a national network of pastors with constitutional and biblical teachings that discusses today’s pressing issues. He was a member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives for 18 years and a candidate for governor in 2010, and is co-host of the daily “Stand in the Gap Today” radio program.