Election time- does anybody look forward to it accept perhaps the candidates? I find voting very, very difficult unless one does the easy thing and votes straight Democrat, Republican, Independent, Green or whatever. Over the years I have tried to vote "intelligently," and truth be told, I don't think I ever really succeeded. However, I will keep trying though I believe since the majority of voters aren't very savvy, my agonizing over trying to get the right man or woman into office may well be an exercise in futility. But try I must to vote for that very special candidate who will pass my "litmus" test and get my vote.
What makes voting so difficult? I believe it is so because there are many candidates and it is challenging to really assess them properly. If we go solely by the political ads then we are in real trouble. Some of them will never stand up in the court of truthful scrutiny. If we go by name recognition - that too will hardly prove the best way to choose quality candidates worthy of our vote. You probably know as I some polititians who just don't deserve the continued support they have been receiving for years, though yes, there are some who do. One of these- I believe is Ohio's Rep. Dennis Kucinich. Though he disappoints me on some levels, on others he gets my backing and applause. I am always happy to see his Humane Scoreboard score re the compassionate treatment of animals. This will assure him of my vote every time. You may probably like him for different reasons too.
The late Senator Robert Byrd of W. Virginia is a legislator who I also admired greatly. Even though he started out as a Klu Klux member, he ended up speaking up against the horrible mistreatment of farm animals in the CAFOs. I miss his compassionate voice in the Congress. In my opinion, there are too few of his kind casting votes. Since I believe in a heaven - please Senator Byrd, beseech God for the dismantling of the factory farms from hell.
I was shocked to learn that even the late Senator Ted Stevens of Alaska had recently begun showing compassion in this regard. I am glad that I finally could hold him in greater esteem even though it was a long time in coming. Everyone deserves a good name and this certainly helps his image.
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Former Senator Mike DeWine of Ohio is on my list of compassionate legislators. Though Republican, he was one of the very few of his party to score well on the Humane Scoreboard of the HSUS. I was sorry when he lost his seat. This election time he is running for Ohio's Attorney General, and though I like his opponent too, I just have to vote for him in recognition of his compassion for not only people but animals as well.
So election day always proves difficult for those of us who try to do our homework and find the best candidate. There are many qualifications (or virtues) that we probably look for or should look for. Among them: honesty, truthfulness, dedication, compassion, unselfishness, hard-working, intellegence, etc. You can add other qualifications as well I'm sure.
So what kind of person should we be looking for? For me Abraham Lincoln was the embodiment of all of the virtues I listed. I don't think too many people will disagree with me on my assessment of him. Today, finding another person of his sterling qualities will be almost if not impossible to find. I also admire these people from the past who I believe shared his general goodness: Dr. Albert Scweitzer, Mohatma Gandi, St. Francis of Assisi and Mother Teresa. I sincerely hope we can find among our candidates running for office some that bear resemblence to them in some way.
If I were to choose just ONE virtue which I could use to help me determine a candidate's worth it would be COMPASSION. In my opinion, any legislator who is truly compassionate would get my vote in a heart beat. I feel anyone who is compassionate - universally - will not distinguish between the needs of humans OR animals. Compassionate politicians will be concerned about the people who are facing foreclosures because of greedy banks. Compassionate people will learn to recognize that they don't need those high salaries they are getting while others suffer from lack of appropriate funds for their day's work. Compassionate people will think less of their needs and more regarding the needs of others.
Political pundits may consider me a neophyte in this regard or worse a dolt. So be it. I stand by my measurement of the worth of a person. I think this world would be a much better place to live with more compassionate people in it. When one is truly compassionate, he or she thinks less of themselves and more of their fellow citizens and the needs of their fellow living animal creatures.
When it comes to voting for congressional seats -those who think like myself will want to see how their legislators voted in regards to animal issues. I am so grateful to the Humane Legislative Fund and its president Michael Markarian. I don't know for how long the Humane Scoreboard has been published, but it is a great tool for measuring compassion in my opinion. For those who want to see how their legislator voted in the 111th Congress please click:
I also read with great interest HSLF's list of:
A FEW OF THE MOST IMPORTANT 2009 STATISTICS OF VOTING
* A bipartisan group of 33 Senators and 98 Representatives covering 37 states and two U.S. territories led as prime sponsors of pro-animal Legislation and/or scored perfect 100- nearly one third of the Senate and one-quarter of the House.
* The average Senate score was a 39, with Senate Democrats averging 56 and Senate Republicans averaging 11.
* The average House score was a 51, with House Democrats averaging 71 and House Republicans averaging 22.
* Thirteen Senators scored 100 or 100+.
* Twenty-nine Senators scored zero.
* Fifty-four Representatives scored 100 or 100+.
* Fifty-four Representatives scored zero.
* The New England region led the pack with an average Senate score of 77 and an average House score of 86.
* The Rocky Mountains were at the bottom with an average Senate score of 14 and an average House score of 28.
* California, Massachusetts, and New Jersey are the only states with an average Senate score of 100 or 100+
* Alabama, Kentucky, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah, and Wyoming were the only states in which both Senators scored zero.
* Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont are the only states with an average House score of more than 80.
* Alaska, Oklahoma, Wyoming, and Utah are the only states with an averge House score below 20.
And the Fund gave special thanks and mention to the following six Senators and thirteen Representatives who scored the highest possible 100+ on animal protection and also provided key leadership on a particular issue or issues:
* Sen. Dianne Feinstein (Calif.) Rep. Raul Grijalva (Ariz.)
* Sen. joseph Lieberman (Conn.) Rep. Howard Berman (Calif.)
* Sen. Daniel Akaka (Hawaii) Rep. Susan Davis (Calif.)
* Sen. John Kerry (Mass.) Rep. George Miller (Calif.)
* Sen. Frank Lautenberg (N.J.) Rep. Brad Sherman (Calif.)
* Sen. Robert Menendez (N.J.) Rep. Rosa DeLauro (Conn.)
Rep. Jan Schakowsky (Ill.)
Rep. Chris Van Hollen (Md.)
Rep. John Conyers (Mich.)
Rep. Robert Andrews (N.J.)
Rep. Rush Holt (N.J.
Rep. Nita Lowey (N.Y.)
Rep. Ed Towns (N.Y.)
Thank you Michael Markarian and staff for compiling not only a record of the 111th Humane Scoreboard but the above statistics as well. I hope that the people of the states mentioned with such beautiful compassionate scores are rightfully proud. Conversely, I hope that the people of the states who had dismal statistics are hopefully disappointed and even perhaps ashamed and will take a second look at their candidates when voting.