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What Do You Look For In A Lawmaker?

by Countable | 11.27.17

These days every day seems to bring a new story into the headlines about questionable behavior on the part of politicians. Roy Moore, Al Franken, Joe Barton, John Conyers, Donald Trump, Bob Menendez. The list goes on and on.

But scandalous behavior by politicians is nothing new.

Of course, there’s scandalous and then there’s illegal. Is that the line in the sand for you? Or is a politician’s choice that you consider "unethical", even if it’s not illegal, a deal breaker?

Are there behaviors you don’t approve of, but you can forgive? Are there behaviors that are always unforgivable?

Does it matter if the behavior occurred before they were an elected official? Does it matter how they deal with the fallout when the behavior comes to light?

If an elected official is willing to go to the mat over policy issues that are non-negotiable for you, does their personal character matter less? Or do you choose representation solely on policy positions, and personal character is not a factor in your decision at all?

What do you look for in a lawmaker, and why?

These are big, philosophical questions, perhaps, but our answers have the potential to change the character of our democracy.

What should we expect from our leaders? What do you expect?

Tell us in the comments what you think, then use the Take Action button to tell your reps!

— Asha Sanaker

Countable

Written by Countable

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(48)
  • Gerald
    11/28/2017
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    I just want someone with intelligence and thoughtful reflection before voting. I don’t want him to speak predictably on well rehearsed talking points. I want him to be American and vote for what is right for the people even if it was unpopular. I want him to be courageous enough to lose an election by refusing negative campaign aids. He must be more independent to be locked into o vote by party lines. I want him to be influential beyond his district. I want him to listen and think and talk to others. Turn down political donations and just win with your honesty and knowledge.

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  • KenBudris
    11/27/2017
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    What I look for in a lawmaker, first and foremost, is integrity. I want representatives who put the best interests and wishes of their constituents above those of their party... or even of their own. I like a lawmaker who stands up for what he believes is right and is not afraid to admit when he is wrong. It is unrealistic to think that we will find leaders who have never made mistakes. A good public official owns those mistakes—admits them and learns from them.

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  • NoHedges
    11/27/2017
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    I check voting patterns using FiveThirtyEight on the issues that matter most to me. Then, I look at ballotpedia for ties to special interest groups, personal gains/profit while in office and legislative experience, Afterward, I check party affiliation, generational cohort, socioeconomic bracket, and humanitarian focused projects. Last of all, I read both comments made by the legislator and about the legislator.

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  • Azrael
    11/27/2017
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    One with enough intestinal fortitude to rid my White House of an idiot using racist remarks at a celebration of native Americans Someone file an ethics complaint and a lawsuit

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  • John
    11/27/2017
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    Someone with integrity that’s not been bought and paid for by ALEC Big Pharma the KOCH’s or any of the other special interests who seem to believe they’ve paid for special access and a free ear.

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  • RadicalModerate
    11/27/2017
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    I look for someone with the back bone to do the people’s work. We want legal access to life saving cannabis flowers. We want health care not insurance scams. We want peace not war. I look for Green Party candidates. The Democrats are as corrupt as the republicans.

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  • Monica
    11/28/2017
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    I expect elected officials to be subject to the same standards of conduct as rank and file government employees-they apparently need training in ethics, sexual harassment, and much more. This should include every elected official and anyone appointed by the president to a high office in the government. I also feel there should be punishment for lying on the campaign trail and even after being elected. These people should also take a pledge to represent the people, not corporate America or the party they are in. Maybe they need to sign a contract which spells out who they should serve, and that using their office for personal gain will automatically put them in prison. I would also like to require that all members of Congress and the Senate must vote on every bill that is proposed, they cannot skip issues because it could lose them some votes. Basically, I expect these people to do the jobs they were elected to do, not reinvent the job to suite their biggest donors.

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  • Ted
    11/28/2017
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    Someone willing to do the difficult job, of working for the best interests of all of us, and who is not in DC to feather their own nests. Way too many US politicians, are copying the Vladimir Putin role model, becoming wealthy, on an upper middle class income. Too many Congressional delegates have unexplainable riches. Citizens United has proved to be a very bad US Supreme Court decision. Anyone wanting to hold high office, should be forced to turn over their income taxes for years before, during, and after their public service, to make sure that it really is in the public service. Representative government is failing in the USA, due to the “factions,” that the Founders warned us about.

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  • Countryfirst
    11/28/2017
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    Someone who is the exact opposite of the orange haired buffoon in the white house and the other money grubbing morally corrupt unethical supporters of the aforementioned moron!

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  • MFein10
    11/28/2017
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    A Congressperson must feel responsible for their constituents. That includes holding town halls, sending out newsletters about their actions in Congress, and replying to messages like Countable comments. In Ohio, our two senators are Rob Portman and Sherrod Brown. Senator Portman does none of the duties I mentioned; Senator Brown does all of them. We live in a representative democracy and that means the legislators have to REPRESENT their constituents’ beliefs. How is that possible if they do not communicate with the public? Therefore, a Congressperson’s most important duty is communication. >> UPDATE: I found emails from Sen. Portman in my spam folder. Apparently he is in fact doing his job in this regard!

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  • I.Got.an.Idea...
    11/27/2017
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    I research the issues each candidate supports and the values they exhibit. If they appear to possess ethical and moral values, which place human beings, wildlife and environment centric in society and culture, above corporate greed and profits, they may receive my support and vote.

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  • Marylynn
    11/28/2017
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    Honesty, integrity and morals that can't/won't be compromised. A good lawmaker does all they can to create laws that will benefit everyone, not just the top 1%. It's high time we weed out those who lack these qualities. We also need a president that isn't a bully, liar and above all mean spirited.

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  • S
    11/28/2017
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    Personal character has a significant impact on policy proposals and support. I could not trust a person charged with embezzlement with proposing IRS regs, of using friendly relations with private sector corporations not to be patron influenced, of ignorant and offensive remarks about minorities to supporting civil rights policies. Personal character never goes away. Traits can be suppressed but sooner or later they rise up. It doesn’t matter if it happened yesterday or 40 years ago. There has to be an accounting. Denial of public office is such an accounting.

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  • Nancy
    11/27/2017
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    I am a democrat because their political values match mine most of the time. It’s still possible to dislike the behavior or decision made on a lawmaker’s part even when they are elected. Having Ethics and Integrity is important too.

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  • PLD
    11/27/2017
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    These days my top priority is a person who has an ethical code of behavior that holds honesty and self-respect along with caring for the well being of constituents and the country above the desire for personal gain and a win in the game of party politics. Unfortunately, it appears a rarity today where the personal gain and a loyalty to the party takes precedent over all else.

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  • Stephanie
    11/27/2017
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    I'm a Democratic Leader, and I have Faith and Good Hearts, Opened Minded Souls, and I want to bring Peace in our World.

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  • Holly
    11/28/2017
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    What I look for in a lawmaker is fairness, a belief in equality, an understanding of change, a willingness to put aside religious beliefs to do what’s best for everyone, and finally someone who isn’t beholden to dark money.

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  • Gail
    11/28/2017
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    I would like to have a lawmaker whose primary raison d’etre is not enabling hostile corporate takeover of America, destroying our environment, destroying democracy, and robbing our children and grandchildren of a future with a lie of a tax cut, “Death by a thousand cuts”.

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  • Dave
    11/28/2017
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    There are only two political positions and lifestyle in any governing body. Governing bodies can be any level or form, head of a house to religion, corporations and democratic governments. One is right and the other is left, plus their extremes. One is my way or the highway, use the club and stick, tell them anything they want to hear, truth is not a concern and my be optional, caring is option only when need, it mainly about me. The other is the opposite.

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  • Jim2423
    11/27/2017
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    Honestly, integrity and above all a loyal American for all. Which are far and few between.

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