The Importance of Properly Vetting Political Candidates

What does vetting actually mean exactly?

The term comes from horse racing, the act of a veterinarian examining horses making sure they are healthy enough to run a race. The job of the veterinarian isn’t just about checking the general condition of the horse either. It goes deeper than that. The veterinarian also evaluates for illegal substances and assesses risk. A veterinarian can scratch a horse from the race.

A political race is really no different than a horse race. Consider the primary season, where political parties go through the process of determining their nominee for a governor race, a senate seat, the presidency. Candidates are the horses, that’s obvious, so who are the veterinarians? Party activists. For the most part, the party faithful examine the horses, to see if they’re healthy enough to run. Activists evaluate risk, review backgrounds, analyze flaws and assess the lies. Party activists, scratch horses from the race.

That’s what’s supposed to happen anyway. The final act of that party activism is voting and it’s a duty that must be taken seriously. Unfortunately not enough people do so. Another problem: Of those people that do vote, they aren’t as informed as they need to be – many, are not even close to being properly informed. In other words, we don’t have enough veterinarians evaluating horses and of those veterinarians checking out horses, some of them don’t know enough to be good pet owners, let alone be assessors of political health.

I can’t stress enough the importance of really knowing everything possible about a candidate, that the truth must be told about every candidate. It doesn’t matter if it’s for the position of dog catcher or president. In order to make a truly informed vote, everything possible must be learned about a candidate. We can’t ignore anything, it must all be looked at. Why do you think we have the current problems we have at all levels of government? Because far to many veterinarians, er, party activists don’t do thorough evaluations. What a shiny coat, or, he seems to be the most electable simply isn’t good enough. That’s like saying, that horse looks fast. You need to know, a vote is too important to be guessing at.

To me, properly vetting a political candidate is a more important duty than the vote. The vote is the part where the doctor is putting the stethoscope away. The important part is when the stethoscope and the gloves are put on, not taken off, the important part is in the examination, determining the truth… The vetting.

People who don’t care to be real activists and just cast a vote in the name of participating in the political process are nothing more than casual fans placing bets at the horse track. That’s a description for the general election to be sure. And I’m only writing what many of you are already thinking when I state; I’d rather not have uninformed people casting votes.

John McCain anyone?

Ladies and gentlemen we can no longer afford to treat the political arena like a horse track. I’ll ask again, why do you think we have the current problems we have at all levels of government? Because too many people aren’t taking the job of voting, seriously enough. We’re not examining the candidates as intensely as we should be, we’re not demanding details and more importantly the truth. It’s not enough to hear a candidate say they are for or against something. We need to know what a candidate’s plan is to fix a problem. We need to hear a candidate’s actual proposal to take something that’s working for people and expand on it. It’s not enough to hear a candidate say they believe in the American Dream, we need to hear what their plan of action is for maintaining it! Mr. Candidate, you have a nice looking family, but this isn’t a photo op, I respectfully don’t want stories about how Democrats have straddled your kids with debt. We all know that already. I want details, plans of action. You say you want to lower the nation’s debt and that sounds great, but just how are you going to go about doing that? Cut spending? How exactly? Get with peers and form a coalition? Use the media and voter pressure against opposition to persuade? Negotiate an exchange of some kind? What? All I hear are shallow talking points, give us details please.

When a candidate doesn’t answer our questions with a straight forward and direct answer, we need to put the rubber gloves on. I know that’s not a pretty visual, but if we’re to truly examine candidates, it MUST be done. Otherwise, we’ll find ourselves stuck at the track, watching the same old horses, placing the same losing bets. We need to ask candidates tough, probing questions, give them a thorough examination.

Put the rubber gloves on, it’s the only way to get better government.

Mike Thayer is Eastern Iowa’s most vocal conservative, offering the Heartland perspective. Providing news analysis and a unique take on the issues of the day, Mike is Sick Of Spin! View profile