The definition of primary is “of chief importance” or “earliest in time or order.” Think primary grades (kindergarten through sixth grade) and primary colors (red, yellow, blue).

Our topic today is both of chief importance and earliest in time or order: It is primary elections. They are crucial, and they are beginning now.

In Southern Minnesota, as just one “prime” example, the election to determine the Republican and Democratic nominees for the open First Congressional District is set for May 24—one week from today. Other states have been holding Congressional primaries this month, with major ones set for today in states including North Carolina and Pennsylvania, and next week in Texas, Georgia, and other places. Also, the primary election for the hotly contested Minnesota governor’s race and other U.S. House seats in Minnesota will be held August 9.

Primary Care, Primary Objective

In all of these important elections, Americans should care mostly that principled candidates are nominated by both parties. We are referring to principles like freedom, law and justice, integrity, protecting the vulnerable, honesty, and limited government.

As pointed out in our March 15, 2022, post, How to Ferret Out the Truth about Candidates, there are ample resources to uncover a candidate’s principles. Look at the websites, ads, and speeches of the candidates, all of which can be found through Ballotpedia and elsewhere on the internet.

Here again are our five rules of thumb for deciding which candidate to support:

Rule 1. Only pay attention to what a candidate says, not what opponents say about them.

Rule 2. If a candidate’s social media post or ad is about the opposing candidate or party, ignore the claim and consider it as a strike against the candidate who is taking the negative route. Bashing an opponent is mean, and it fails to honor the principles of peace and dignity. Consider why the candidate focuses on things other than what he or she can bring to the office.

Rule 3. Campaign promises that are misleading or seem unreasonable violate the principles of honesty and integrity. Look for a better candidate.

Rule 4. If the candidate is trying to pander to a certain race or class, or to racist voters, these tactics reflect a lack of belief in equality, law and justice, and other important American governing principles. Ask yourself why the candidate feels compelled to stoop to such tactics.

Rule 5. If the candidate is antibusiness or antireligion (or, for that matter, against separation of church and state), he or she disregards fundamental principles of freedom and free enterprise. Find a candidate who is more “for” than “against.”

These five rules will help you fulfill your primary objective to select the most principled candidate.

Primary Concern, Primary Principles

Electability should be another top concern among primary voters. To that point, it does no good to nominate the person most supportive of (or supported by) Donald Trump, if doing so ensures that your candidate will lose in November. We do not actually hate to be the one to tell you Trumpians that your 30 percent of the overall population is not enough to carry a general election (which is the one you really want to win). Don’t forget that Donald Trump actually lost to Joe Biden. Yes, he did. To Win, Just Ignore Trump, as we wrote on November 9, 2021.

For Democrats, this same logic means it does no good to nominate the person who is most Progressive or Socialist if doing so ensures your party’s doom in the general election. This is likely to be a disastrous mid-term electoral year for your party anyway, so do not exacerbate that problem by nominating your own Extremocrats. As we wrote in November, it is Time to Move Forward, Democrats and come forward with a principled, positive platform rather than simply strident anti-Trumpism, anti-Republicanism or anti-conservativism.

This practical concern of electability is another reason why nominating a person who stands for and exemplifies basic American principles, which are accepted by a broad, middle majority in a general election, is the best way.

Written by Quentin R. Wittrock, founder of Principle Based Politics. 

Look for his posts each week, as this blog will explore and promote the idea of principle in politics, both as to individual elected leaders and our federal government as an institution.

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