Presidential Candidates '08 - Where They Stand
Presidential Candidates '08 - Where They Stand
Without doubt it's important to vote in the upcoming 2008 U.S. presidential election, yet it's even more important to cast an informed vote. This meansparing presidential candidates in terms of where they stand on the issues - fortunately, this is something which is easy and simple to accomplish on the Web, if you know the best online resources. One might hope that, this time around, the Internet will loosen up the decades-old stranglehold TV has had on the public consciousness where presidential voting is concerned. After all, do we really want the next president to be the candidate who makes the best TV impression during debates, Sunday morning talk shows, and randomly-reported sound bites? No, of course not - it's the candidate's position on major issues that's really most important to us. But at the same time, keeping each of more than 15 candidates' positions on issues straight can be like trying to juggle four balls while balancing a banana on your nose - particularly since some of them have an unfortunate tendency to alter their position on certain issues in mid-campaign. Television is fine as far as getting a sense of the "presidential-ness" of the candidates and a feel for their leadership qualities. But it's not so fine when you need to understand exactly where each one stands on the major issues of the day vis-a-vis the other candidates. This is where the Web can help, and it does the job quite well. Issues Quiz To begin, check out your current knowledge of the candidates' positions with this brief quiz -- Using a word processor or piece of paper, record what you think are the positions of some or all of the following candidates on each of several issues, then go to the Issues Grid ( websearchguides issues_grid websearchguides issues_grid ), prepared by PoliticalBase. Suggested Candidates: Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Rudy Giuliani, Mitt Romney, John Edwards, John McCain, Fred Thompson, Mike Huckabee Corresponding to each candidate, indicate "for, " "against, " "strongly for, " or "strongly against" for each of the following issues: 1.Minimum Wage 2.No Child Left Behind Act 3.Iraq War Withdrawal 4.Affirmative Action 5.Universal Health Care 6.Legalized Abortion 7.Same Sex Marriage 8.Social Security Reform 9.Free Trade So how did you score? If you're like most people, you didn't do too well, but this is definitely information you need to familiarize yourself with before casting your vote. Of course, you need not totally agree with the Issues Grid developed by PoliticalBase. For example, the Issue Grid's representation of Clinton's and Edward's positions on "Social Security Reform." as "strongly against" seems to me to need clarification. (Note that you can click on the issues in the left column for elaboration.) So I suggest that you review this Issues Grid with caution and look also at some of the other Internet resources discussed below. NEW YORK TIMES ELECTION GUIDE ( politics.nytimes election-guide/2008/index. politics.nytimes election-guide/2008/index) Probably one of the more objective and thorough e Internet sites forparing presidential candidates is that of the NY Times. (Incidentally, a NY Times Online subscription is not needed to access the material.) On the home page you get the following info on each candidate: Topic Page - (Books he/she authored; Books about him/her; Selected NY Times articles on candidate (e.g., there are almost 4000 listed on Clinton); Biography Blog Posts from the Times' Politics Blog Detailed Profile of the candidate On the left sidebar, notice the heading "ISSUES." At present the issues covered are: Abortion, Climate Change, Health Care, Immigration, Iraq and Iran. When you click on an issue you go to a page providing a general briefing on the issue, then specific position quotes on the issue from each candidate. Of course all of the above can take you hours, maybe days, to plow through, unless you target specific info. If you're looking for quicker, easier overviews as a basis forparing the presidential candidates, try the followingparison tool. COMPARE CANDIDATES TOOL( thebostonchannelpare-candidates/index. thebostonchannelpare-candidates/index) WCVB-TV in Boston hase up with this "Compare the Candidates" site, and it's so good it may turn out to be all you need - at least, for making your initial decision. Start by scrolling down the page and select two candidates, one on the left side of the page and a second on the right. Let's say we pick Clinton and Giuliani. Presto, there are their photos, a link to their bios, and their policy positions (as construed by WCVB, anyway) on Foreign Affairs, Iraq, Homeland Security, Immigration, Economy, Education, Energy, Climate Change, Health, Social Security, Stem Cell Research, Same Sex Marriage, Abortion, and Gun Control. It seems like WCVB thought of everything... except Iran. Could it be they didn't think Iran is that important? (Not likely.). In any case, below are several additional sites forparing presidential candidates -- some of which have very unusual and entertaining approaches. Other Presidential Candidate Issuesparison Sites My Election Choices ( myelectionchoices myelectionchoices ) This site turns "comparing presidential candidates" into an entertaining game. Begin by clicking on the issues that will influence who you will vote for (Abortion, Health Care, Immigration, etc), then on the next page view a list of public statements by each candidate on each issue you selected. Now click on those statements you agree with. Finally, click "submit." Based on your choices your results will be tabulated and you'll be told how closely your views agree with the various candidates (graphically and on a percentage basis). 2decide table ( 2decide table 2decide table ) Another Issues Grid - this one quite detailed. Vote-USA ( vote-usa vote-usa ) Presents campaign statements by the various candidates representing their positions on major issues. Pew Foundation on Religion & Public Life ( pewforum /religion08/profile pewforum /religion08/profile ) Click "On the Issues" for representations of candidates' positions. Presidential Candidates and U.S. Foreign Policy ( usforeignpolicy.about od/2008presidentialrace/2008_Presidential_Candidates_and_US_Foreign_Policy usforeignpolicy.about od/2008presidentialrace/2008_Presidential_Candidates_and_US_Foreign_Policy ) A resources listing providing numerous links to About web pages detailing each candidate's foreign policy positions.
Joseph Ryan is Director of Washington Research Associates, Inc., Washington, D.C. His firm's websearchguides Web Search Guides provides helpful 10-minute tutorials on a wide variety of topics, such as online background checks, asset searches, student financing, identity theft, home refinancing, and many others.