This is how you should vote

I’m not going to tell you who to vote for.

On Saturday, I will attend the Maine Republican caucus, and I will check a candidate’s name on the ballot despite deep reservations about everyone still in the race. But I have to pick one of these people, and I have to base my decision on something. So what do I base it on?

Well, I’m pissed off about pretty much everything right now.

To say I’m angry at the state of the country would be an understatement. Our entitlements are broken, our foreign policy is incoherent, our unconscionable national debt is immoral and disgusting, our education system is an embarrassment, our health care system is a travesty, our economy is no longer driving prosperity, and our culture is rotten and getting worse.

I have two kids, and a third on the way, and this is the world being left to them. That infuriates me.

And why is it like this? Because of the feckless political leadership — in both parties — that has been running this country for the last two decades. They care about their own power. They lie to us. They don’t take their responsibility as stewards of this nation’s government seriously.

And worst of all, so many of the people we have believed in as leaders who will stand up against this nonsense, say no, and fight like hell to fix it have in fact been just as phony as the rest, using our anger and frustration against us.

They achieve nothing. They change nothing. They do nothing. It is all a transparent game for their own benefit and no one else’s.

Is it any wonder I and so much of the rest of the country, at both ideological ends, are so angry and frustrated?

But therein lies the problem. Is that feeling of anger, resentment, bitterness and frustration truly what I should base my decision on? Is that what should drive me into one candidate or another?

I will not allow myself to fall into that trap, and you shouldn’t either.

Passion — both positive, and negative — is a good thing. It can motivate change, and energize you to take action about something that desperately needs action. Aspiration and outrage can be an important spark.

But it can also cloud your judgement, and it can be used against you by an increasingly clever and insidious political class. Even the “outsiders” to it.

The Republican presidential candidates at a Feb. 25 debate in Houston, Texas. Mike Stone | Reuters

The Republican presidential candidates at a Feb. 25 debate in Houston, Texas. Mike Stone | Reuters

When someone identifies your passion, particularly when shared by millions, and begins telling you all the things you have ever wanted to hear, doing things you have always wanted to see done, and saying things you have always wanted to hear said, beware, because you are almost certainly being used.

As the Maine caucuses approach for both parties, I ask only one thing. Remove all emotion from your mind, and start over. Emotion will fatally corrupt your opinion.

If you are a conservative voter and disagree, consider that surrendering to “feelings” was always a hallmark of liberalism.

That was where illogical bleeding heart nonsense polluted rational thought. That was where cults of personality fueled by illogical devotion gave voters warped views of reality. We should not succumb to those same mistakes.

This election, sit down and in a cold, logical way, evaluate the candidates, what they represent, and what they are likely to do.

Evaluate their positions on issues, and whether they truly mean what they say. Consider what the candidates will be rationally capable of accomplishing, not just what they say they will be able to do. Think about what they represent, and whether it represents the best of what this country stands for.

Be a skeptic. Be harshest to those you like the most.

Listen to yourself. If you aren’t making solid, logical arguments for someone, and are instead saying things like, I feel, or I am sick of, or I can’t stand, then you are basing your opinion on fairy dust, and your candidate will ultimately disappoint you.

Do this as you consider each and every candidate, and you will not arrive at a perfect candidate when you are done. You will, however, arrive at a place closer to reality and truth, and you will make a better decision.

If, after that bitterly cold, logical approach you decide that Donald Trump is rationally the best candidate, then vote for him. If you instead believe that person is Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, Ben Carson or John Kasich, vote for them.

Vote for whomever you want. But if you allow your decision to be based on logic, rather than feelings, you will make the right decision.

Matthew Gagnon

About Matthew Gagnon

Matthew Gagnon, of Yarmouth, is the Chief Executive Officer of the Maine Heritage Policy Center, a free market policy think tank based in Portland. Prior to Maine Heritage, he served as a senior strategist for the Republican Governors Association in Washington, D.C. Originally from Hampden, he has been involved with Maine politics for more than a decade.