WHY IS THERE A DEARTH OF LEADERS IN POLITICS?  WHAT DO THE MOST QUALIFIED CITIZENS SHUN PUBLIC OFFICE?

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Many candidates in our 50 states run each election period to be mayors, governors, representatives, or senators. The only requirement is that they be U.S. citizens. Yet running a city or a state or being a legislator requires a number of abilities. It would be desirable if citizens could be given information delivered through mass media of the knowledge and experiences of the individual candidates so that citizens can better judge their qualifications. Information would be supplied to questions such as:

What should a would-be mayor know about budgeting, traffic planning, taxation, market research, business planning? What should a Congressional representative know about how bills are passed? What should a Presidential candidate know about bill passage, budgeting, vetoes, and foreign affairs to have a good grasp of the issues that he or she will face?

We are not saying that lacking “job” knowledge would preclude anyone from running, only that voters might want to know more about a candidate’s abilities to do the job. We need to encourage political scientists to sketch the knowledge and skills that individual political candidates for various positions have. Although a democracy is not to be confused with a meritocracy, we might wish that there would be more signs of merit.

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