You Choose: the next best political candidates

Today we begin our sixth month, and within the vast American schism, you’re invited to share a political chat in a safe space. Since our first post describing the rationale for gathering in such a forum, we’ve loved the emerging community that brings curiosity and engagement to our ongoing conversations.

So we’re wondering how you might rank the following arenas when it comes to political leadership? Character, Policy, Faith, Nobility. (I’ll give more definition to these in a moment.)

There’s lots of ways to think about this…e.g. What is most valuable in a political leader? What does it take for me to embrace or walk away from a candidate? What drives my vote? However you frame it, we’d like to hear from you!

Don’t mention any names, specific policies, faith preferences, or your own party affiliation. I’d probably edit those details out. Let’s hold our conversation generally to the four arenas and any other you might argue is more important than one or all of them. Keep in step with the spirit of our consents.

1 (is most important). 2, 3, 4 (are less important). No ties! Sure, all of these are important, but ties are too easy. Keep in mind: that which gets your “2,3,4” does not mean ‘not important’…it only means ‘less important’ than the one(s) ranked higher.

So if you dare, post a reply* with your thoughts. You may simply convey your rankings 1-4, or even better, tell us why you ranked the way you did.

Ok, here are the four arenas again, with a bit of detail for any given candidate…

  • Character/Behavior – they exhibit individual (e.g.) integrity, honesty, empathy / and high moral conduct.
  • Policy – they line up best with my own platform and ideas.
  • Faith – they are known for an authentic walk with God.
  • Nobility – they champion civic virtue, communal charity, and public conscience, (e.g.) lifting up people the world ignores.

*If you wish to reply, but not have it posted publicly, just say so in your reply. I read them all before they are published, and will abide by your wishes. I promise to add your numerical rankings (anonymously) to the results. We’ll post the consensus and the polarities.

Thanks so much for reading and sharing with the Gathering group of friends. Our community is growing fast, and it’s been an amazing six months. I would love it if you shared this post with friends and family and invited them to weigh in on this conversation! They and you, are warmly welcome!

10 thoughts on “You Choose: the next best political candidates”

  1. This is a difficult task! I’d rank in this order: Character, Nobility, Policy, Faith. What is difficult is that Nobility is an outward expression of Character, and Policy (at least in a very general sense) can/should flow from Nobility. Faith ought to (but doesn’t always) aid in the development of both Character and Nobility. Adherence to a “false gospel” can pervert all of the above.

  2. Thanks Kathy! I wonder if one says that “nobility can/should flow from character”; is it possible to bring nobility to the table even with major character issues, or the opposite, sterling character with little nobility?

  3. I would argue that nobility and character are a bit overlapping as it would be difficult to have the character I would look for without having that nobility. However, playing along with your rules :): Character, Nobility, Faith, Policy. I’d also add that intelligence both our conventional definition of intelligence and emotional intelligence is important and would rank that above policy. (Don’t make me rank that with the others!). While I am never short on opinions on things, I fully acknowledge that I am not a public policy expert nor do I/we the public, have the ability to know all of the factors being weighed in policy decisions. If I can trust the above the person is much smarter than me, has more info than me and has the character, nobility, and faith, then I would probably be okay with policy decisions that differ from mine.

  4. I would say
    1. Nobility – I think at its best politics should be a system designed to lift everyone up. I think the focus of the things mentioned in the nobility arena is key to creating a political system that is committed to lifting everyone up and creating a communal good as opposed to rewarding the few that are are already in power
    2. Policy – The policies created should hopefully follow through the commitment to nobility
    3. Character – I think people that have done some questionable things on a personal moral level have still been capable of creating good policies that have done good things for the people of the country overall, so I’m less concerned about things like sex scandals than I am with politicians creating good policies that will benefit everyone.
    4. Faith – I think someone’s faith can certainly contribute to how someone carries out the previous three items, but I don’t think being of a certain faith or even adhering to a faith is required to create good policies. I find it problematic in a country that is not a theocracy and claims to separate church and state for policies based solely on religious beliefs and practices to be created and forced on others who don’t share them.

  5. I appreciate this challenge and forum to grapple with it together, RC Bingham! Here’s my ranking: (1) policy, (2) character/behavior, (3) nobility, and (4) faith. Policy is first because it has the most direct effect on people’s lives and shapes most decisively the distribution of material and social resources critical for quality of life. Character is a close second because that speaks to how one leads–a servant leader versus a self-promoting one–and this too has consequences for people’s lives because how leaders manage people and resources when conflicts arise exacerbates or ameliorates existing inequities. Nobility, while distinct from character, can be subsumed as a subset of it (a point of discussion between you and Kathy already). Finally, I value my own faith journey with Christ and it shapes my policy priorities, but the range of Christian beliefs and practices shows me this is not necessarily a useful indicator of one’s core beliefs nor a reliable predictor of behavior.

  6. This is interesting! I struggled with the policy point too, but my experience in studying the welfare state is that policy wins and losses are often ephemeral (take the welfare entitlement for example, which arguably lasted only about a decade), while the moral leadership of a politician can set the tone for the nation and set it on a course. So, for example, several of the policies that were part of the War on Poverty were probably ill considered but the moral tone that (the former president whom I shall not name) set in 1964 set the nation on a course, and that course was set by character and especially nobility. P.S., you need not like the direction of that president to take my point. I was also struggling over if getting to the policy is even possible if you don’t have the character and nobility–everything can get stuck if we don’t trust each other and have a shared sense of right or wrong

  7. Danielle,
    Thanks for this! And a good defense of Nobility. An interesting consensus on faith. Does anyone want to defend a contrary view?

  8. This took some time to think about, and I still am going back and forth with my rankings. However, as it stands I believe the order would be 1) Nobility, 2) Policy, 3) Character/Behavior, and 4) Faith. Working with immigrant youth populations in Baltimore has definitely changed where I think my initial rankings would have fallen. I am heartbroken daily as I work with my youth. At the lack of services and resources available to them, and their families. At school systems who were struggling before and are drowning rapidly due to the pandemic. At people who have the power to work to make concrete change and yet seem to miss the concept of basic necessities for humans. At the struggles these youth are having with not enough outlets to destress. Nobility and Policy go hand in hand with my passions and who I am in both my professional and personal life and are strong drivers of how I interact with the world today. Specifically over the last four years and climaxing over the last 10 months, the need for Change and for the right people in positions of power to wrap their arms around those we like to ignore exponentially more important but also in your face and THAT is what we need. Character/Behavior is a very close third–Integrity is EVERYTHING and then there is Faith, my walk with God and as a Christian forms the foundation of me as a person, it’s hard to separate because I feel as though it permeates all the areas (at least for me). I like this list, it makes you dig deep. 🙂

  9. I’d pick Nobility then Policy, which flows from that, then Character, then Faith. I appreciate the nuance between nobility and character and hadn’t separated the 2 in my thoughts prior.

    The easiest to define is policy. I wonder if you’d need another set of consents for folks to talk about surrounding the other 3 🙂

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