People often vote for the candidate they find more likable or trustworthy and rarely seek to compare their own beliefs to those of the candidates. The intricacies of policy are fuzzy and hard for a lot of folks grasp. There are few easy answers in governance, which can make it tempting to vote more with the heart/gut than the mind.
This year, the American electorate has stronger feelings—most of them negative—about Trump and Clinton than about perhaps any other two candidates in one election in our history. If there is any American election that truly requires sensible heads in the voting booth, it is this one.
Therefore, it is particularly important for average Americans to get a better sense of their own policy positions and come to better understand how their own views compare to the views of the candidates.
Those of us who write often know that sometimes the best way to understand your own thoughts is to get them onto paper. While I would not imagine that many Americans would be willing to compose essays on their political preferences in order to prepare for an election, there is a simpler way to achieve a similar result:
A simple questionnaire could prompt voters to assess their own political viewpoints on a number of issues and motivate them to think through some of the nuances as they decide to what degree they agree with certain statements.
Of course, these questions must be non-leading and as neutral as possible and should avoid suggesting in any way what the candidates should or may think.
Even single-issue voters can gain something from this process: a candidate might agree on a single issue with a particular voter but disagree on many others, which is something that voter should at least be conscious about.
In the version of a questionnaire [below], each question offers a range of choices of 6 numbers—from 1 (strongly agree) to 6 (strongly disagree) with the intermediate numbers indicating a range of positions on each question.
|STRONGLY AGREE||STRONGLY DISAGREE||YOU||CLINTON||TRUMP|
|1—Immigration—Immigration should be more curtailed||1—-2—-3—-4—-5—-6||____||____||____|
|2—Global Economy—Globalization is bad for America||1—-2—-3—-4—-5—-6||____||____||____|
|3—Foreign Policy—America should pull back from abroad||1—-2—-3—-4—-5—-6||____||____||____|
|4—Education— Government should stay out of education||1—-2—-3—-4—-5—-6||____||____||____|
|5—Guns—Guns should not be regulated or limited||1—-2—-3—-4—-5—-6||____||____||____|
|6—Health—Government should stay out of healthcare||1—-2—-3—-4—-5—-6||____||____||____|
|7—Religion—Government should stay out of religion||1—-2—-3—-4—-5—-6||____||____||____|
|8—Abortion— Abortion is murder and should be outlawed||1—-2—-3—-4—-5—-6||____||____||____|
|9—Taxes—Taxes must be lower, whatever that takes||1—-2—-3—-4—-5—-6||____||____||____|
|10—Size of Government—Government must be limited||1—-2—-3—-4—-5—-6||____||____||____|
|11—Global Warming—Global warming is a serious problem||1—-2—-3—-4—-5—-6||____||____||____|
|12—Military Spending—Military spending should be higher||1—-2—-3—-4—-5—-6||____||____||____|
After checking your choices on the questionnaire, it is likely that you may find a better sense of what you believe about the issues individually and collectively. Add up your score—that number means nothing except it can give YOU a reference point to consider as you compare yourself to others including candidates.
However, the process can serve another purpose as well. If you are willing to do some research, it should not be too difficult to put a candidate through the same process. Just as the questionnaire permits self-examination, it is a useful avenue into an examination of the candidates’ positions on these various issues. And then you have a basis of some comparison.
A similar national poll by professional pollsters might offer further useful comparisons, both regionally and nationally, and might help draw attention to a broad possible use of self-polling.
And, thereafter, as the saying goes “may the best person win!”
PLEASE EMAIL YOUR RESPONSES TO firstname.lastname@example.org. You can score yourself and the candidates in the columns provided. It may also be helpful to you to add up the total scores—you may find it useful comparing your total views to those of others.
Your responses will never be published in any form identifiable to any person, and will be held in TOTAL confidence, and destroyed after being tabulated into general information.