How to Pick a President?
“In view of the general confusion on this subject, it is advisable to remind prospective voters of a few basic considerations, as guidelines in deciding what one can properly expect of a political candidate, particularly of a presidential candidate.
One cannot expect, nor is it necessary, to agree with a candidate’s total philosophy — only with his political philosophy (and only in terms of essentials). It is not a Philosopher-King that we are electing, but an executive for a specific, delimited job. It is only political consistency that we can demand of him; if he advocates the right political principles for the wrong metaphysical reasons, the contradiction is his problem, not ours.
A contradiction of that kind, will, of course, hamper the effectiveness of his campaign, weaken his arguments and dilute his appeal — as any contradictions undercut any man’s efficacy. But we have to judge him as we judge any work, theory, or product of mixed premises: by his dominant trend.
A vote for any candidate does not constitute an endorsement of his entire position, not even of his entire political position, only of his basic political principles.
It is the basic — and, today, the only — issue by which a candidate must be judged: freedom vs. statism.
If a candidate evades, equivocates and hides his stand under a junk-heap of random concretes, we must add up those concretes and judge him accordingly. If his stand is mixed, we must evaluate it by asking: Will he protect freedom or destroy the last of it? Will he accelerate, delay, or stop the march towards statism?”
— Ayn Rand in The Objectivist Newsletter, March 1964