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Sock It to Me: Scoring Candidates

If you knew that line came from the TV classic Laugh-In (1968 – 73), you might be a Baby Boomer – and you might decide this election.

In our last two posts, TMM offered a tool for comparing candidates: our Moderate Leadership Test (MLT).

We hope Moderates employ MLT in evaluating character – as important (if not more) than candidates’ positions on issues.

Comparing issue positions is necessary, and TMM will. But character tells how candidates would manage formidable presidential challenges: unexpected crises, national emergencies – as we’ve experienced recently.

We’ve researched President Trump’s and former Vice President Biden’s histories, and based our scores on facts, not opinions.

We’ll use Moderates’ Basic Beliefs (see original 2018 post for explanations) and MLT’s criteria. Here’s the first:

  • America is, and always has been, great… because Americans… from different parties, backgrounds, and faiths, worked TOGETHER to make her great – and keep her that way.

 MLT: Have candidates shown pride in America, no matter which party is in power? Demonstrated willingness to work with fellow Americans to keep her great?

Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign trademark was “Make America Great Again” – implying America was no longer great.


By most measures, America was (still) great in 2016, after President Obama’s two terms – with Biden as VP:

  • The economy had slowly but steadily improved after the disastrous Great Recession (2007 – 08). Unemployment fell from 10% to 4.7% (it’s 11.1% this June, under Trump). GDP was historically high, with annualized 2.1% growth rate, slightly above long-term growth rate.
  • The America Recovery and Reinvestment Act promoted economic growth and saved America’s auto industry.
  • The Affordable Care Act provided health insurance to 20 million uninsured Americans, protecting those with pre-existing conditions.
  • The war in Iraq ended, Osama Bin Laden was killed, and reduction of troops in Afghanistan began.
  • America targeted energy independence by 2020, partly due to increased fuel-efficiency vehicle standards.
  • The Ledbetter Fair Pay Act passed, combating pay discrimination against women; Sonia Sotomayor became our first Hispanic Supreme Court justice.
  • Veterans’ services improved, with increased funding for Department of Veterans Affairs, $78 billion tuition-assistance GI bill, and 50% decrease in veterans’ homelessness.

But Trump convinced his base America was no longer great. Not based on facts, but emotions – fear, resentment, anger. Possibly because America had elected (and re-elected) its first BLACK president? Because Trump frightened white Americans (especially with low education levels) into believing minorities were taking over, and they would no longer have power?

A former neo-Nazi now helping other white supremacists leave the movement explains, “that (slogan) means ‘make America WHITE again’”.

Others describe it as brilliant marketing (since Trump was a salesman), with different constituencies interpreting its meaning differently.

To white, blue-collar men, Trump’s core supporters, it meant others (blacks, minorities, women) had gained more rights and jobs, threatening theirs.

To evangelical Christians, it meant homosexuals were no longer closeted, and gay marriage was legal – challenging their notion of sin.

America’s demographics are indeed changing, and we must ensure ALL Americans have seats at the table. But do we want a leader who will try to UNITE us through that transition – or one who intentionally DIVIDES us to gain power?

As for Biden, he’s a veteran Democratic senator (reelected six times, usually with 60% of votes); so he’s certainly taken shots at Republicans. But not in the bitter, divisive ways Trump has attacked Democrats.

Senator Biden was known as a bipartisan deal-maker who could be trusted, who would sometimes buck his party. He worked across the aisle with Senators Jesse Helms (R-NC), as conservative as they come, and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), as partisan as they come – reaching compromises on taxes, spending (avoiding government shutdowns), and foreign policy.


Trump – Not the first to use that “Make America Great Again” slogan. Both Republicans (Reagan) and Democrats (Clinton) used it. But Trump took it to a higher level – the centerpiece of his campaign. While he’s professed love for America, once hugging a flag onstage, his disrespect for previous presidents and leaders (of both parties) and implication we’re only great while HE’S president, result in this score:  C-

Biden – He’s repeatedly “demonstrated willingness to work with all fellow Americans to keep her great” (MLT’s criteria). That willingness resulted in his measured criticism of Republicans (while maintaining working relationships with them), and his perpetual pride in America (no matter who’s in power), resulting in this score:  A-

Moderates, please post your scores in our Comments section, and use those scores to help determine your vote. Then sock it to ‘em – VOTE.



Images: Google Images

Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In: TV Guide

Trump in MAGA Cap: BBC

Biden & Obama: ABC News

Trump & Biden: Texas Tribune

Nixon: StandUpAmerica

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  1. If you want to use the photo it would also be good to check with the artist beforehand in case it is subject to copyright. Best wishes. Aaren Reggis Sela

    1. Thank you for your suggestion.
      We always credit the photos we use to the agency/organization that Google Images credits. We’ve been told that many people use photos online and don’t even credit anybody, and we never do that (trying to make sure we do credit all of them).
      Best wishes to you, too.

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