The Upcoming Election: Don’t Vote for People


A number of years ago, I made a commitment to myself to never vote for, or against an individual running for public office. This commitment did not come from a cynicism about politicians or the political process. I’ve had the privilege, over the course of five careers, in many countries, to work with ambitious, hard-driving, extremely motivated, very smart, and highly visible men and women. They have taught me an indelible lesson: We have no idea, whatsoever, as to what lies at the heart and mind of a person, if all we see is their public persona. Without drilling down into who they are, privately; without exploring their gifts and wounds from their history; and without touching and experiencing their feelings, we have, ultimately, no idea of who they really are.

I’m pretty good at what I do, and I have been surprised, numerous times, at how wrong some of my initial, diagnoses have been. If we confine our voting to an assessment of “personality,” we are left with the choice between a contemporary incarnation of Neanderthal Man and a psychopathic liar – some of which may be accurate, or very little may be true.

So what should we be voting for? I vote for my assessment of the kind of culture that I believe the candidate and their party will attempt to create. I’ve had the opportunity to live anywhere in the world that Arleah and I choose to. We live in America because of its culture – the opportunities to take one’s life to the heights of success and happiness, and to completely sink to the depths of failure and misery.

So how do I determine the kind of culture that each candidate aspires to create? I ask myself the following questions about the kind of culture I want to live in, and the likelihood of each party creating and maintaining that culture. These six questions determine my vote.

Do I want to live in a culture that:

  1. Values individual responsibility above any other value?
  2. Values personal growth over comfort?
  3. Values life-long learning and curiosity?
  4. Values accountability (i.e. commitments made to others)?
  5. Values adaptability to change and sees everyone as equally capable of making changes?
  6. Values constant challenge and assumes that people are highly resilient?

I spend my time, these days, trying to cut through the clutter of personal savagery, and arrive at an assessment of which cultural philosophy is being promulgated by the warring parties. No matter what the outcome, I can rest assured that I tried my hardest to move our society toward a place that draws the very best out of everyone.

Morrie Shechtman

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