We Need Better Criteria for Political Candidates

March 13, 2014

political candidatesGoing to fish fries, parades, and BBQ fundraisers shouldn’t be the measure of a successful political candidate. And political elections shouldn’t be popularity contests.

How many times have we seen unqualified candidates run for a highly specialized or technical office and then sometimes actually get elected?

The eventual complaints about their limited effectiveness and lack of accomplishments are warranted. Whenever that happens we hear the same refrains time and again: “Throw the bum out!”, “Career politician!”, “Incompetent!” or “Self-serving!”

Then what happens? We sometimes elect other unqualified people to hold specialized or technical offices, or we re-elect the same ineffective ones. And we get the same results all over again.

What’s the remedy? While I know of no “silver bullet” solution, when it comes to specialized offices shouldn’t we specifically examine a candidate’s professional training, qualifications, and experience? And shouldn’t minimum required qualification be set for those offices that require technical skills?

I’m a teacher. Wouldn’t it make sense to require a candidate for Superintendent of Education to hold a degree in education, public policy, or financial management and to have classroom experience? Shouldn’t the Comptroller General be required to be a licensed and experienced accountant just as the Attorney General should be required to be a licensed and experienced attorney? I think so.

I also think it’s important for political candidates to be able to clearly explain their political ideology or philosophy since that ideology or philosophy might determine their goals and performance if elected. In that regard, voters certainly have a right to know a candidate’s views on how expansive or how limited the role of government should be in our individual lives.

We have a civic duty to vet political candidates carefully before we “hire” them to serve us. As a common sense safeguard, candidates pursuing specialized or technical offices ought to be required to meet appropriate professional standards to show they have the proper qualifications and experience to serve us effectively if elected.

Kelly Payne

By: Kelly Payne


Kelly Payne is a high school Social Studies teacher in Richland SC.  She has been heavily active in the tea party movement from the beginning.  She is very involved in the GOP and grass-roots political efforts. Kelly ran for State Superintendent of Education in 2010. She served as South Carolina Sate Co-Chair for the Michele Bachmann Tea Party Coalition. Kelly began writing for The South Carolina Conservative Dot Com in 2012.


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