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Wednesday, September 15, 2004

On the relationship of candidates to the issues... 

Mark Schmitt (all of whose stuff we should all be reading) has a new post up about the relationships of political candidates, particularly presidential candidates to the issues. The usual criticism, at least from the sort of 'leftist' cricles I inhabit, of this and most presidential elections is that they don't spend enough time on policy, instead dwelling on nebulous character considerations. Shmitt argues that, in a certain very circumscribed sense, this is exactly as it should be. The US, after all, doesn't have a parlimentary system so when voting for a president we're not really voting for particular policies. Instead it is more accurate to say that we're voting for the person who will respond to policy oportunities (or unexpected political circumstance) in a way that we think is most moral/responsible. It's less important, than, that a presidential campaign be about issues for issues' sake, than that it be about issues for what they tell us about how a candidate conceives of his leadership role: how he'll act when in office.

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