It’s campaign season again, but don’t heave a big sigh and tune it out.
Instead, think of this as a chance to conduct job interviews. Rigorous job interviews, with Nebraskans and Iowans hiring some new employees.
No responsible employer would hire a top manager without taking a hard look at the applicant’s qualifications. A thorough interview (or two) would follow. References would be checked. Much is at stake.
Voters aren’t shopping for toothpaste. They’re bosses looking for good employees. Consider the upcoming campaigns as the chance to look beyond campaign advertising and sloganeering to find out whether a candidate has the vision, experience and capabilities to do the job.
It would be presumptuous for a job applicant to try to waltz into a corporate position with only a sharp-looking suit and some well-delivered jokes. The same applies to a candidate who thinks winning public office merely requires bumper-sticker slogans and smooth-sounding talking points.
Voter-employers deserve substance.
By early next week, the final Nebraska candidates will have filed for office. In Iowa, the deadline is a little later.
It’s the right time for all candidates — regardless of party or which office they seek — to comprehensively address matters important to their future bosses and to explain why they are the best choice.
Here are some of the things your prospective employers may want to hear:
Tell us clearly what you stand for. Describe your vision for the future, your key goals if elected, how you are equipped to achieve them and their practical importance for voters.
Explain your central principles for governing. How willing are you to tell people “no,” including your supporters, if need be? Talk about your relationship with your campaign donors.
Describe experiences in your life that can help you carry out the job you’re seeking. Tell us how you have exercised independent judgment rather than merely following the herd.
Describe the ingredients for effectiveness in working with others, even when they disagree with you. Then tell us how you have done that in the past and how you would do it if elected.
Talk about how you analyze difficult issues and how you make decisions.
Running for U.S. Senate or Congress?
Explain what qualities of yours would help you break the partisan logjam in Washington.
Railing against runaway spending is easy. Tell us in detail what federal spending priorities should be. What programs should get fewer dollars? Are there any that should get more?
Talk about entitlements. Don’t just say we need to do “something” about Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare costs. Tell us what. Exactly.
Give your answers for how best to handle legal and illegal immigration. What should be done about the 12 million people already here illegally?
Explain what you would do in Washington to be effective in making sure a small-population state like Nebraska can have its voice heard. How would you make the case for StratCom or the new VA hospital?
Running for governor, another statewide office, the Legislature?
Point to the key goals you believe Nebraskans need to focus on. Tell us how you analyze issues that include taxes and spending; crowded prisons; economic development and new jobs; water; social needs; K-12 and higher education.
Demonstrate your understanding of Nebraska’s various regions and communities. Describe how you would help rural and urban parts of the state to work together rather than drift apart.
Describe how you would promote government transparency so taxpayers would know what they’re getting and why. Tell us how, if executive-branch problems arise, they should be addressed and how you would demand accountability.
The job hopefuls are applying. Now begins the work of screening them, conducting thorough interviews, demanding thoughtful answers, weighing replies.
A lot is at stake. Tune in.