Campaigns, Governing, and the 4-Way Test

One of the first things you learn as a member of a Rotary Club is the 4-way test.  Of the things we think, say, or do: 

  1. Is it the truth?
  2. Is it fair to all concerned?
  3. Will it build goodwill and better friendships?
  4. Will it be beneficial to all concerned? 

Pretty straightforward and hard to argue with.  What if campaign ads were put to this test?  I can already hear how the campaigns might respond.  

“Well, technically it is true.”

“Depends on what the meaning of the word fair is.”

“Better friendships with whom?”

“Will it be beneficial in what way?” 

Most politicians, and most certainly their campaigns, are really good a parsing words.  That’s why people are so frustrated with them.  By the same token, the media is really good at nitpicking words, which is why they have little more credibility than politicians. 

So where does this leave the voters ofAmerica?  Pretty much were they always have been.  Most vote for the party with which they identify themselves.  The rest base their vote on their personal happiness or dissatisfaction with the current occupant, the state of the economy, and how long the incumbent has been the incumbent (shorter is better).  

If you want government to be more effective, to actually get things done to improve people’s lives, here’s my suggestion.  If you are a party loyalist, hold your candidates accountable.  Do their words and actions stand up to the 4-way test?  If you are still undecided, use the 4-way test to evaluate candidates.  And when I say candidates I mean candidates; not what their surrogates, opponents, or the media says about them.  

Campaigns come and go but the decisions of those elected endure for generations.  Encourage those elected to use the 4-way test to guide their decisions.  One more thing, it wouldn’t hurt to share Rotary’s motto with them too – Service Above Self.

Posted in General | Leave a comment