It speaks volumes when candidates refuse to engage with the people in an open public forum (one which they themselves do not control) out of a fear that doing so might put their image at risk.

That indicates a focus on what is best for the candidate and not on what is best for the people whom the candidate seeks to serve.

It also points directly to the kind of access voters may expect to have with the candidates if they are elected. When people are asking to be the representatives of our voice in government, then we need to be assured that we have their ear so that we know that our concerns will truly be taken into account. Those who fail to provide that kind of access send a message that they know better than we do how to be our voice in government.

I believe that is something that we all should keep in mind as we evaluate who will best represent us. I think that one of the best ways to vet what kind of a representative of the people a candidate would be if elected is to look at the interactions they hold with people while campaigning and ask the "Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How?" questions about those engagements.

Who are they willing to meet with? (And who are they not?)

What is the message? (A good message sells itself and will hold up to scrutiny. It needs no adornment.)

When and Where are they willing to engage with the voters? (Do they respect the proper relationship that should exist between candidates and voters, or do they try to manipulate that relationship?)

Why and How are they asking for your vote? (What is motivating them? Is it a desire to serve the people? Or is their focus solely on maintaining their own image? Is their interaction with voters meaningful, or is it superficial? Do they have the courage to engage with the voters under circumstances in which they cannot control their image?)

The courage and confidence that candidates demonstrate while campaigning give us a good indication of the kind of leadership we may expect from them if elected. Pay attention to that. And let none of them off the hook.

* This commentary was originally posted on Facebook on 10/29/21

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