Do your own research for election

The presidential election is in full swing, with the Iowa Caucus set for Monday.

Closer to home, the filing period for West Virginia’s primary concluded Saturday.

Residents are going to be bombarded with campaign information, from many levels, over the next few months, especially as we get closer to our state’s primary in May.

Whether it be those running for president of the United States, West Virginia governor, county sheriff or some other office, each candidate is going to be vying for your attention.

There are promises that will be made, claims levied against other candidates, documents, leaflets and e-mails moving from all directions. It can all be more than a little vexing after a while, making it difficult to know what is true and what is just campaign rhetoric.

Whether their names are Sanders, Rubio, Clinton, Cruz, Trump, Bush, Kasich or Carson, they are each after one goal. There is no second place in this contest. There can be only one.

The presidential election is the biggest job interview in our nation. Much like any job interview, you want to put your best picture out there. You want to promote yourself and your qualifications. You want to make people remember you, and not the other people included in that stack of applications.

In politics, that often means not always being completely open about aspects of your past. If you’ve held public office before, you might not always talk about decisions you’ve made, although you can be sure your opponents will. Keep in mind, all of those votes are available for public review, and most of them are easy to find with today’s technology.

This presidential election has tapped into the anger of the American public. We have had a great deal of problems, and many of us haven’t been happy with the results we’ve seen from those we’ve elected to represent us. That has led to many instances of sweeping the old guard out of office and installing new watchdogs at the legislative or executive levels of our government.

Just look at West Virginia’s last state election to see such an example. We have Republican majorities in both houses of the Legislature, and the state is – at least legislatively – heading in the opposite direction of where it had been.

It will still take quite a bit of time to see whether that will prove beneficial to the future of the Mountain State.

The nation’s attention will be focused on Iowa until sometime Monday evening, then it will shift to New Hampshire where some of the candidates already have started a major push in their campaigns.

Eventually, they will begin going from state to state, spreading their message to the voters before they go to their polling places.

As the elections and caucuses come and go, several candidates will decide to drop out, but through it all there will be press conferences, rallies, flyers, Twitter posts and even more debates.

Things will be said, accusations will be made, promises countered by others who say they can do a better job. Candidates will pick apart each others’ records, and there will probably even be a few jabs taken about some of the candidates’ families, location of birth, e-mails and bankruptcies.

We all know most of what will be said will never come to pass. That’s part of our nation’s governmental system.

Even as president, whatever goals you have, you are still supposed to go through the system and try to work with the 100 members of the U.S. Senate, and the 435 members of the House of Representatives in order to get legislation passed into law.

You can’t always use your phone and your pen.

But, you are going to say whatever you can to get the job, and that is where we, as voters, really need to pay attention.

There is going to be a great deal for us to see and hear in the coming months.

We are going to find ourselves better identifying with one or two of the candidates, depending on which way we tend to lean politically.

We are going to like some of the ideas better than others.

The important thing is for each of us to do our research, find out as much as we can about each candidate, their backgrounds, their actions while in office (or in the business community) and see if we think that person truly will represent us the best in the Oval Office.

The same can be said for any other office on the ballot this year.

We must be responsible voters, and not just fall for the rhetoric. Take the time to learn for ourselves, pay attention and make a decision based on what we feel is true.

(Howell, a resident of Colliers, is managing editor of The Weirton Daily Times, and can be contacted at or followed on Twitter @CHowellWDT)