Elections are a lot like a Car

Ron Bolin: Nov. 12, 2014

Periodically we need to review the ability of our automobile to get us where we want to go.  This may take place on a regular basis or it may be brought about by technical problems or changing transportation needs.  In reviewing our car we must assess whether it is meeting our needs for transportation: whether it is too large or too small, whether it it is comfortable or a pain to drive,  how much it costs to insure and operate, how much it costs to repair and, against this, how much to simply buy a new one?

An election is a lot like that.  It comes when it is time to determine whether to keep investing in our old car; to undertake repair;  or whether to replace it with one which may better meet our needs.  Ask yourself whether you think our current municipal vehicle can meet your needs for the next four years?  Can it be brought up to your needs by replacing a few parts?  Or do we need a whole new car to carry us into 2018 and beyond?  Can our old car be economically rejuvenated or will the best financial move be to get a brand new car?

  • If rejuvenation or repair, which parts need to be replaced?
  • If a new car, what brand and model?

If we were looking at a car, we would have a lot of information available to help us make that choice.  In an election, a lot like in an in-camera meeting, we may not even be aware whether we are looking at a luxury car, a standard model or an econocar.

Aside from that, when we look at election candidates we find that:

  • There isn’t much literature available about most of them and a lot of what is available is biased;
  • The brand doesn’t have much of a history and what there is may be ambiguous at best;
  • There are no warranties of guarantees and no replacement of lemons for four years;
  • There are no responsible companies behind them to whom one can complain;
  • There are no recalls;
  • The costs are not set upon purchase, but can, and usually are, found to be much higher after the sale is closed.

So you are left with your assessment of the parts that will make up your new or refurbished car based on  your estimates of:

  • Suitability: to meet your needs and wants, i.e. do they come with a road map to where you want to go and how to take you there?
  • Reliability:  have they clearly undertaken maintenance problems or have they silently and repeatedly ignored warning signs?
  • Durability: do they have the strength to carry on despite the rough terrain of the “herd” effect?
  • Believability:  Can they live up to their hype?
  • Cost: Are their ambitions commensurate with your ability to pay?

On these factors we can each try to make a decision on each candidate and hope to reach a mutually agreeable, if not agreed upon, decision about the car that will take us through the next four years…. and its driver.

On Saturday let’s try to acquire a car that will drive us around town without driving us to Detroit….