In Dubious Praise of a Litmus Test

by Kim Pederson…….

With the finish of the Iowa caucuses, the 2016 presidential race is finally off and running after much pawing, prancing, whinnying, and mucking about in the paddock prior to the start. It struck me in watching the candidates (all of them) post-Iowa that it’s nearly impossible to make any kind of value judgment regarding their qualifications to be president from the words they deign to utter.

Yes, but why?*
Yes, but why?*

So what’s left to judge our candidates on? Their behavior, of course, and in that respect I recommend that voters apply the PGBLT to each one before making up their minds. (No, I do not mean smack them in the face with a sandwich involving lettuce, tomato, bacon, peanuts, and gefilte fish, although I would understand the impulse. I mean check each one against the very unofficial but highly ingenious Presidential Genuine Behavior Litmus Test.)

So how do you tell a “genuine” person from a disingenuous one? (Genuine as in “actually having the reputed or apparent qualities or character: not adulterated or cheapened.”) It’s easy thanks to Steve Tobak’s Entrepreneur article titled “10 Behaviors of Genuine Behavior.” Tobak begins his piece with this tenet: “Whether you’re building a business, a network, or friendships, you always want to look for people who are genuine. After all, nobody wants to work or hang out with a phony.” He could easily have added “or elect a president who is” to his list.

So as you’re considering your vote in November (and I hope everyone is planning on voting), apply the PGBLT by looking for these qualities in the candidates. According to Tobak, this is how genuine people behave:

  • They don’t seek attention.
  • They’re not concerned with being liked.
  • They can tell when others are full of it.
  • They are comfortable in their own skin.
  • They do what they say and say what they mean.
  • They don’t need a lot of stuff.
  • They’re not thin-skinned.
  • They’re not overly modest or boastful.
  • They’re consistent.
  • They practice what they preach.

Tobak goes on to observe that at the core of all these behaviors is a “self-awareness that is consistent with reality.” He closes by saying “it’s sad that, in today’s world, such a positive quality is at risk of becoming endangered.” Even sadder, in today’s world of presidential candidates, it is borderline extinct. If one truly applies the PGBLT, we’re pretty much left with no one. Maybe the Great Pumpkin will come along and save us. Oh, but that’s right, he has to find a sincere pumpkin patch in which to rise up. There goes that idea. Darn.

* “I Like Ike” button from the 1952 Eisenhower presidential campaign by Tyrol5. Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons.

Visit Kim Pederson’s blog RatBlurt: Mostly Random Short-Attention-Span Musings.

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Kim Pederson
Kim Pederson has been a freelance writer and editor since 1996. Prior to that, he was Senior Editor with Charles River Associates, an international economics consulting firm. Kim earned a B.A. in English (Honors) from the University of Montana and an M.F.A. from the University of Iowa Playwrights Workshop. His plays have won awards and been produced in Seattle and other locations; his screenplays have won awards and been optioned, and he has done work-for-hire scripts for film production companies. Kim lives in Key West with his wife Kalo and two Maine coon cats, VeuDeu and Pazuzu.

2 thoughts on “In Dubious Praise of a Litmus Test

  1. Kim, I know it is perhaps not cool these days to say there is a candidate out there who passes the test, but I see one: Bernie Sanders. You usually do not respond to your readers but I’d ask you to tell me which part of the test he fails? ciao, jerome

  2. I must concur with Jerome. Sanders beliefs and behavior have been consistent throughout his lifetime. He is what you see and not a fabrication of a team of spin doctors and confectioners.That cannot be said of any of the other POTUS candidates, left or right.

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