Voting Is How We Hire Candidates

Susan Page
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Wednesday - September 08, 2010
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Ah, the signs and sign-wavers, the inevitable sign that it’s the season to hire new people to work for us. After all, that’s what elections are all about: hiring and firing (and in the case of Gov. Lingle, retiring). We “hire” people to represent our values, priorities and issues, and kick out the bums who have veered off course from the original “job interviews” aka campaign promises.

It always shocks me how many people don’t take elections seriously when clearly electing a representative to government is the most critical “hire” a person could ever make. Many (and some of you reading this column) look at election season as a big annoyance. But frankly, unless you not only vote but get actively involved in the “hiring” process, you have little right to complain about government. Elections can have dire consequences, as many people who are still unemployed, have businesses hanging on by a thread or have been foreclosed on now know. President Obama’s campaign promise of change has come true, but what a price tag!

Elected politicians will not only be drawing a salary from you in the form of taxes but they also will have the power to vote into law bills that spend even more of your money and increase your taxes.

Hiring representatives is a big decision that most of us are ill-prepared to make. How many actually take time to research a candidate with the same due diligence as hiring a plumber, electrician, landscaper, tax preparer or a contractor to remodel a house?

Signs and sign-waving are sometimes the criteria by which an election decision is made. In 2004, during my husband’s campaign for a state House seat, a woman shouted out her car window, “I’m gonna vote for you because I like the way you wave.” While he appreciated the vote, it’s scary to think waving, a skill almost never required during the legislative session, could be the reason a person’s elected.

When it comes to hiring, I look at experience. I don’t mean how long a person’s held elected office. The experience that impresses me is in the real world: Those who’ve taken risks in the free-enterprise system, started a small company, hired people and managed them, faced economic downturns and survived, even thrived, faced customers and also dealt with the onerous regulations placed on businesses. It takes someone who sees how the votes cast in the Legislature play out in everyday business life to know what helps or hurts our economy, which is driven by small businesses. Our small-business sector should be the breeding ground for candidates. No offense, but we have more than enough lawyers in our Legislature.

All across the Mainland citizens are voting out politicians who have overspent, overtaxed and grown government well beyond what the Founding Fathers designed for a free people. Every person running in Hawaii’s gubernatorial race, mayoral race, for the state Legislature and every other office has a resume. Incumbents have a voting record. We, the “employers,” have a responsibility to study those records. It’s our responsibility, our job. Never forget, we’re the boss.

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