(Photo by Shannon Cay Bowers)

Dear God, I hate the nature of campaign season! 

The ruthlessness of campaigning sours my stomach more than turnips. And here we are again, inundated with negative ads sponsored and paid for by candidates who dare to “share the truth” about their opponents.

Seriously, are there any other professions where one business leader slanders their competitors to gain favor with their clientele, audience, or customers? You can’t find it! Why? Because it’s truly an unethical and distasteful approach to building a business. 

However, during campaign season millions of dollars are spent slashing and sabotaging the reputation of “the other side.” As citizens or constituents of our town, state, and nation, we have to dig to find the truth about prospective candidates. Mainstream media has stoked the fires of radicalization through biased and often untruthful reporting.

Recently, I attended two events where I was able to hear from a U.S. Senate candidate and a U.S. House of Representatives candidate. I asked both of them, “How many lies are being told about you?” They both responded the same, many. I asked them why they are running for office and again they both replied the same, “I love my country and cannot continue seeing the destruction of our foundational principles be thrown to the wayside.”

One wasn’t seeking a political career when she entered politics. She was a schoolteacher, farmer, and small business owner. However, it was at a church event that a member approached her and said, “We need strong women like you in D.C. You need to think about entering politics.” And, she did. 

The other candidate running for a seat in the House was retired, enjoying his fishing time. He said that after a series of events over the past two years, he was having some “pillow talk” with his wife about incidents in our country and she said, “Well, do something about it.” The next day he put his fishing pole in the shed and started talking to people about what he would do if elected.

Both candidates were affirmative and bold in their talks, not bashing other candidates, yet sharing their approaches to topics of concern. I have the utmost respect for politicians of integrity who, along with their families, are making sacrifices to serve our community and country.

On a Senator’s recent podcast he said, “Politics is not a career, it’s a calling.” Amen to that!

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So let’s get down to some basics before the August primaries roll around and we decide which candidates are best for both parties. Yes, the primaries are just as important as the November general election. The primaries determine which two candidates will run in November.

Primary basics:

  1. Know the candidates: Explore the candidates websites to see how they stand on certain hot buttons or topics. If necessary, visit or call their office and ask questions.
  2. Voting record: If the candidate is presently serving in office, you can see their voting record. For the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate: Congress.gov. For the State of Missouri: senate.mo.gov and house.mo.gov.
  3. Funding: does the candidate’s campaign support come from within the state or do they have out of state heavy hitters or corporate funders supporting the majority of their campaign. If their support does come from outside, who is backing them and why? Check out what “super PAC  funds” are. Does the candidate have a majority of their funding from the super PAC? If so, why? Online option opensecrets.org
  4. Meet the Candidate: Attend a political event or campaign function to see firsthand how the candidate answers questions and relates to the people.
  5. Fact check: ensure the facts on your candidate, there are many websites that provide true facts.
  6. Big Mouths: The loudest mouth isn’t always screaming the truth. Those who scream the loudest may be heard but oftentimes it’s just a scream. Don’t be swayed by big mouths.

These are a few from my own checklist:

  1. Integrity: do our morals, values, and hot topics align?
  2. Family: is there any record of just plain “stupidness” as a leader with their own family. If they can’t keep their household in order, how in the world can they manage a town, district or state?
  3. Pocketbook: Are there any records of bankruptcy or mishandling of funds. If they can’t handle their own affairs, why would I give them a portion of my hard earned income?
  4. Friends: show me their friends and I will see your and my future. Who they hang around does influence their decisions.
  5. Religion: is it a ritual or a relationship. Does this candidate show up to get a card punched or do you see fruits of their God-time relationship? Do they pray for guidance in their decision making and serve with excellence?
  6. Common ground: Is this person willing to seek real solutions with the other party and within their own party, or are they blocking progress for the sake of soundbites and YouTube clips? Are they willing to compromise a short-term win for a long-term betterment of the country?
  7. Lastly, do they like coffee? This is a big deal to me, I’m kidding but kind of not. I can’t imagine anyone functioning in the day-to-day grind of politics without a great cup of coffee. “Grin.”

There’s your homework before August 2, and then get ready again for the general election on November 8. See you at the polls.

Julie Higgins

Julie G. Higgins is a Springfield entrepreneur and a partner in Higgins Business Consulting. Her mantra is: “Teach with your life.” Follow her on Twitter: @julieGhiggins or email her at: juliehigg@yahoo.com More by Julie Higgins