Politics: My Vote Goes for Character

Abe Lincoln: A Man of Character

A daguerreotype of President Lincoln, a man of character,  taken by Nicholas H. Shepherd in 1846 when Lincoln was a congressman.
A daguerreotype of President Lincoln, a man of character, taken by Nicholas H. Shepherd in 1846 when Lincoln was a congressman.

Character ... Not Attendance!

Voting By Paper Ballot

A few years ago several fellow bowlers were recipients of cash prizes and trophies in the Tuesday Night Winter Fun League at Rip Van Winkle alleys. Because of my mediocre bowling average, I wasn't expecting anything (other than a small portion of the money we paid toward prizes.)

Nevertheless, I was not altogether forgotten; I was awarded a nice little pin extolling my "perfect attendance."

While my bowling partners conveyed their congratulations to me, they would have been much happier had I performed better in the weekly games.

Perfect Attendance Questioned

People often win praise for good attendance; however, attendance cannot properly be evaluated in a vacuum. There were days, for instance, that I bowled so badly that my teammates would have much preferred that I stay home.

In politics, citizens often treat good attendance as a praiseworthy virtue. In political campaigns, candidates frequently brag of never having missed a vote, or berate their opponents for missing votes or committee meetings.

Absentees Under Fire

Some of our nation's best and brightest people have been attacked for missing votes, including former President John F. Kennedy. Over the years, there have been several local commission members who came under fire for not showing up at meetings -- in fact, I believe one person was banished from a local post for missing a large number of sessions.

In truth, having a perfect voting record is not all it's cracked up to be! And missing a committee meeting may not necessarily be so bad. It all depends!

It's a mistake to blindly lash out at officials because they miss a vote or a meeting.

Of course, one must always fulfill one's obligations and responsibilities. But intelligent people always weigh their options before making decisions.

Personally, I admire the way JFK used good judgment in budgeting his time. Perhaps one reason he was so successful was his ability to manage his schedule wisely.

Consider the Circumstances

Whether the issue be voting on a legislative bill or attending a local commission meeting, wisdom demands, always, that we consider the circumstances.

If you were a legislator, for instance, you, of course, would want to vote on the issues that come before you. But scores, if not hundreds, of these votes come up at every session. While a few are exceptionally important, most are mundane -- and not closely contested.

If, for instance, a matter comes before a legislative body that is expected to pass by a wide margin, it may well be that one's time could be used more wisely doing something else -- either professionally or personally.

Ethical Decisions

Given the choice of voting on an unimportant matter that would undoubtedly be approved without your presence and attending a school play crucial to your child, what do you think would be the correct ethical decision?

It may be easier, in this instance, to show up for the vote and, thereby, avoid the slings and arrows of the always-at-the-ready critics, but, I believe, it is both wiser and ethically better to go see your child taking part in a school play.

Character is far more important than reputation!

I wrote this column as a "My View" for The Hour newspaper of Norwalk, Conn., on Dec. 27, 1997. I now write my views on a wide variety of topics on HubPages. To view my HubPages Profile Click Here

My Vote Goes for:

  • The Best Man/Woman
  • My Political Party
  • A Third Party Candidate
  • The Candidate Who Is Best on the Issues
  • The Candidate Who Agrees With Me on One Big Issue
  • Other
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A Story of Character -- What Is It?

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Comments 17 comments

Bob 8 years ago

Bill ... I agree and I must admit , I've voted for some real characters .


William F. Torpey profile image

William F. Torpey 8 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y. Author

Thanks, Bob. I've voted for a few characters myself.


donnaleemason profile image

donnaleemason 8 years ago from North Dakota, USA

I think you are quite right, it is not the amount of meetings that you attend, it is your contribution to the effort that counts, anyone can just turn up.

Donna


amy jane profile image

amy jane 8 years ago from Connecticut

I agree, character is everything. Showing up is only part of the job. Being a good judge of character - now that is a totally different topic!


Rob Jundt profile image

Rob Jundt 8 years ago from Midwest USA

You are right. I recall the famous quote, "Character is who you are when no one is looking."


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 8 years ago from Bend, Oregon

Excellent points! How many committee meetings have you attended (elected officials or not) when half the room is sleeping? I want people to come to meetings when they are going to participate and help move the agenda along!


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 8 years ago from North America

One time I looked at all the "Characters" on the ballot and nearly went sreaming out of the voting booth. It was during a Reagan election I think. We had 12 different parties on our ballots and room for write-ins. Crazy! Anyway, character and integrity are certainly needed in office.

Great Hub!


William F. Torpey profile image

William F. Torpey 8 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y. Author

Thank you, Donna, Amy and Rob. Voting is often more complicated than appears on the surface. In politics it's common for both Republicans and Democrats to proudly declare they voted in favor of, let's say, a prescription drug bill. But, if you look closely, on side voted for the bill to be financed through taxes and the other side voted for the bill to be financed by private contributions. A politician of good character, if you can find one, would not try to mislead anyone about their position on the issue. I wish all politicians would avoid "spinning" their views in an attempt to gather up votes they would not otherwise get.


William F. Torpey profile image

William F. Torpey 8 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y. Author

Thanks, Steph. I was just talking a few hours ago to the incoming county commander of the Nassau County VFW here on Long Island, and he was saying much the same thing. In most organizations, there's a small group doing all the work.

I agree, Patty. Every year, it seems, the candidates become less and less attractive. On the other hand, the way we criticize and belittle our candidates and office holders, I don't know why anyone would want to run for office!


compu-smart profile image

compu-smart 8 years ago from London UK

Great hub William i bow my head to your Bowling win!:) and to your views and opinions and observations which are always a great and interesting read..

Its also funny that if there was one word in the world that would, and has described me most is the word "character"!!


William F. Torpey profile image

William F. Torpey 8 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y. Author

Thank you, compu-smart, for your kind remarks. But I'm not sure what you mean: Do you mean you "have character" or you "are a character?" (Just for the record! LOL


compu-smart profile image

compu-smart 8 years ago from London UK

Well we all have charachter, but i am a charachter!!

I hope it makes sense, if not it's a british thing!!;)


Jay C OBrien profile image

Jay C OBrien 2 years ago from Houston, TX USA

Abe Lincoln is pictured as a man of character. Keep in mind that he is responsible for killing over 500,000 people during the civil war (plus widows and orphans). He is responsible due to his lack of diplomacy. There were alternatives to the civil war. These require patience: education public and private. Also there was the underground railroad.

One of the significant reasons for the civil war was taxation, which the south viewed as disproportionate.

Was all that bloodshed worth it? I think not. With time and education social positions change.

It is said that Lincoln haunts the white house... little wonder with such bad decisions.


William F. Torpey profile image

William F. Torpey 2 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y. Author

The Civil War certainly was tragic, Jay O'Brien, but President Lincoln cannot be fairly blamed for the war or for the casualties on both sides of the Mason-Dixon Line. But, while your viewpoint is welcome, I am not going to re-fight the Civil War here.


Jay C OBrien profile image

Jay C OBrien 2 years ago from Houston, TX USA

You are correct, it takes two to fight. This is about "Character." What concerns me is Lincoln's moral attribute of diminishing the value of people. Lincoln knew the war would be very bloody. He was advised of the casualties yet he continued.

Please tell me you understand that the war was not worth the casualties. Only very prideful people place their cause above the welfare of others.

Lincoln was the commander and chief of the military he could have stopped it at any time.


William F. Torpey profile image

William F. Torpey 2 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y. Author

War is -- or should be -- the last resort. The casualties on both sides were tragic. No war is worth the casualties. I repeat: President Lincoln cannot be blamed for the war or the casualties.


Jay C OBrien profile image

Jay C OBrien 2 years ago from Houston, TX USA

I invite you to read the Hub, "Encouragement for America," and let me know what you think. (Yes, this is my Hub).

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