Saturday, December 15, 2007

Common Ground - Raj Verma

What’s Your “Presidential Test”

For some, the principal litmus test for their selection for President is a candidate’s view on abortion. For others, their selection of President is contingent on a candidate’s moral values and/or executive experience. What we look for in a Presidential candidate is worth big money. Political strategists on each campaign staff are aggressively trying to understand what the public wants in a Presidential candidate, and are investing huge amounts of dollars to identify the most desirable Presidential qualities.

The science of decision-making and sociology are highly complex and variable. A multi-disciplinary model, one which includes economics, political science, and psychology, helps strategists understand how people come to make decisions. The common denominator is the study of human behavior and decision-making—precisely what political strategists, pundits, and commentators are assessing in a highly complex matrix. With that in mind, what factors do you take into consideration when choosing the candidate of your choice? Here is my generic ‘Presidential Test’ for you to consider. The test attempts to identify the strong qualities of a candidate given the current social and political condition of the country. The five-step test should be applied in sequential order and considers each candidate outside of his party or political persuasion. Of course, there can be plenty of other tests applied—can you think of any? The strategists and pundits are listening!

1) Which Presidential candidate offers the most convincing evidence and opinion of the condition of our country today?

2) Which Presidential candidate offers the best vision of where our country is headed, or where he/she would like the country to go?

3) Has the candidate delivered on a vision he/she presents, in his/her current job or in a former position?

4) Does the candidate offer any ‘value-added’ agenda or scheme that separates him/her from other candidates in relation to how the candidate addresses foreign policy?

5) Has the candidate left his/her current position in a better position than when he/she first entered the position? i.e. if a candidate is currently a senator or governor, how has the senator’s district fared, or governor’s state progressed over the course of the candidate’s term?

Given these five tests for a good President, who comes out on top? Which candidate is your winner at this time?

Raj Verma, JD/MPA
Blog Contributor

Raj Verma is the President of the Future Leaders Council for USINPAC. He currently resides in Washington DC.


Kelef said...

I think Mr. Verma makes this a bit more complicated than necessary. I'd say a litmus test, by definition, is a make or break issue that determines if you can support a candidate.

A candidate may generally do great on Mr. Verma's 5 point test, but have one position that is contrary to my core beliefs. That is a litmus test, and if they fail, I will not support them, even if they are otherwise great, even if it breaks my heart.

I think the Indian American Community needs to focus more on developing some gut check litmus tests. Other communities have them - abortion rights is central for many liberals, taxes are central to conservatives. For many members of the Jewish community, support for a strong US-Israel is a touchstone.

I believe the Indian American community dilutes its clout by not working to coalesce around some litmus test issues.

I believe the US relation to Pakistan is a prime candidate for such a test. Many Indian Americans are well aware of the dangers of a radical Pakistan, supporting terrorism. This is a real threat to our long term security as Americans. The community has an obligation to press candidates on this important issue and hold them accountable.

Raj Verma said...

Thanks for your comment Kelef. To your point on a litmus test, I was simply referring to the fact that some people select their candidate based on a single policy/issue test. So your definition and response is correct. I agree with you. Second, I offer my 5-point test to fully evaluate a candidate's leadership ability purposely outside of any political persuasion. The test evaluates analytics (test 1), vision (test 2) general experience (test 3), foreign policy experience (test 4), and integrity/reliability (test 5). Generally, although people may not employ a complicated or multi-fold test overtly, they think about these issues in their head, either consciously or subconsiously.

To your point on the fact that the Indian-American community should focus on a gut check litmus test, what tests are you thinking of? Because of the enourmous diversity of our community, I don't think you can identify even a few single issues that represent the community's view. Even more, this may be a good thing.