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November 8, 2016

By Ed Maier, Former Andersen Partner

If you have trouble recognizing the title of this quarter’s article, I can only assume that you have been out of the country for an extended period of time, or somehow you have been residing on another planet.

Of course, that date is Election Day.On that day we will elect the person who will be inaugurated on January 20, 2017 as the 45th President of the United States.Well, technically, when we cast our vote we will be electing the electors who will ultimately choose the next president, but for all intents and purposes they are one and the same.

While some may consider the process and different aspects of it messy or corrupted or ineffectual, it is still our country’s process.Keep in mind, when you think about voting, what one of my personal heroes, Winston Churchill, said about democratic processes:“It has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.”

Much has been written and much has been said about the candidates for the current year’s election.In writing this article, I am not attempting to encourage you to vote for any particular one of the candidates.According to Ballotpedia (www.ballotpedia.org), and as you probably already know, the primary candidates for who you might consider voting are those who have been (1) nominated by their party for the presidency and (2) featured in at least three major national polls.In alphabetical order these are:Hillary Clinton, Gary Johnson, Jill Stein and Donald Trump.According to the aforementioned website, there are 1885 people who filed the appropriate paperwork with the Federal Election Commission.But these are the four that will more than likely appear on the ballot you will see.If you are interested in knowing who the other 1,881 are, you can go to that website and research it.

If you have made up your mind about your candidate of choice, that is great.If not, you still have plenty of time to do so.I am sure you know that there is a myriad of places you can go to learn what each candidate represents. I am not going to suggest any source in particular, but as I have written in the past—think straight about it.Try to find sources that you believe represent facts about the candidate and their parties and platforms, not someone’s version of the facts.Then make your choice on the basis of those facts.

I have read two books in the last couple of years by the noted historian, Doris Kearns Goodwin.They are:Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln and The Bully Pulpit:Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and the Golden Age of Journalism. You may be frustrated with the current list of presidential candidates.You may be put off by their behaviors, their messages and their perceived shenanigans.You may not feel they are qualified to hold the highest office in the land.I won’t say that elections and election processes in the past have been similar, but as I read these two books, I was amazed at some of the goings-on that occurred in the politics of the past.And, these were not being followed daily by thousands of “news people” and subject to the communications and social media tools that exist today. I also lived in Chicago during the infamous 1968 Democratic Convention and I will attest that it was not a walk in the park, either.Notwithstanding where we are, nor what we might think of the current state of our politics, I am confident that when this year’s process is complete, we will move forward..

I normally focus on a particular behavior or leadership issue when I write these pieces for our newsletter.You may wonder why I chose this topic.I did so because I believe the behavior we all must exhibit is that of personal responsibility.

We have a responsibility to fulfill on November 8, 2016.That responsibility is to vote.We should cast our ballot for the candidates—up and down the ballot—local, state and federal—that we feel will do the best to move our city, our state and our country forward.Even if you prefer to cast your ballot for the candidate who you believe is the “least worst”, I encourage you to do so.Abraham Lincoln, my personal choice as the greatest president that ever served our country, said: “Elections belong to the people. It's their decision. If they decide to turn their back on the fire and burn their behinds, then they will just have to sit on their blisters.”Don’t wake up on November 9, 2016 and find that you are sitting on your blisters.

As always, I welcome your thoughts on my thoughts.Feel free to write me at ed@thinkstraighttalkstraight.com.