Have You Read the Presidential Front-runner's Online Issue Statements?

(Posted 03/22/2008) - I spent yesterday perusing the issue statements posted on the Hillary Clinton, John McCain, and Barack Obama campaign websites. It is interesting to note what they say they believe, what they pledge to accomplish if elected, and how they plan to accomplish their objectives.

There are substantive differences among the candidate's published issue statements. The purpose of this soapbox item however is not to critique those differences, or offer any opinion on a candidate's suitability for the office of president. My motivation for writing this column is to wonder out loud how many voters will actually read any of these issue statements?

It seems to me that our society has grown particularly lazy when it comes to doing direct research on any candidate for office. As a constituency we seem to rely on pundants, celebrities, and political advertisements to provide us with our opinions.

The classic practice of newspapers publishing detailed candidate platform / issue statements, followed by forums for public debate of those issues has fallen prey to an era of 3rd party analysis that interjects opinion and synopsis for factual journaling of what was said. We live in the era of sound and video bites -- often tailored to a news-media generated narrative.

So, where does one turn to learn a candidate's position on issues of interest these days? Ironically, it seems to be the candidate's campaign website. If you want to get their own words and ideas without 3rd party interpretation -- go to each candidate's website and click on the issues tab.

The internet offers a wonderful interface for doing topic by topic comparisons of each candidate's detailed position statement. Rather than listen to a Fox News (substitute your favorite news organ here) pundant or his / her guest, wouldn't you be better served to read the candidate's own words on what they will do if elected?

Most of the media reports on candidate's social calendars, I think we constituents need to be focusing equally on what they say they stand for and what they say they will do if elected.

I have gathered here links to the Clinton, McCain, and Obama websites and their respective platform / issues statements. I have read them -- have you? Will you? Think about this -- if you don't really know what your candidate says on issues that will affect you and your family are you doing your job as a citizen?

Here are the links:

At the bare minimum a voter should read the top two issues (from that voter's perspective) and compare the statements of each candidate. Pay as much attention to what is not said by a candidate on a topic as to what is said. This tells volumes about priorities and commitments by that candidate compared to others who do talk about the topic in question.

In short, make your decision not just based on the social context in which you see the candidate placed by the media. Equally base your opinion on what the candidate directly claims as their substantive position on issues that affect you.

Happy voting!