Candidate qualification


What are you looking for in a political candidate? What one person calls qualified, another finds to be laughable. Truth is, all candidates on a ballot are “qualified”—meaning that they have met the legal criteria to be placed on the ballot for the office of which they seek. You must, however, ask yourself whether the legal qualification is enough to receive your vote.

As you ponder your circumstance and the circumstances of those around you, are you satisfied with what you see? Has your method of choosing who to vote for produced desired results? Is it time to re-evaluate your strategy?

The moral, social, political, and racial injustices that make national and local headlines-as well as stories headlining the “community’s broadcasting system”—present a plentiful backdrop for developing a list of issues needing to be addressed. How these concerns are prioritized is for you to determine. Such listing allows you to see who is attempting to address matters that are important to you.  Without this awareness, you can easily be misled into voting against your interests.

In determining the most “qualified” candidate, does the “look of leadership” matter to you? Do you (subconsciously) “accept” a white and male candidate easier? Do you question his experience for the job? Do you give him more “room for error”?  Can he simply visit your church, offer free food, shake your hand and smile in your general direction to win your vote?

With regards to black candidates, do you investigate them in greater detail?  Must they share your political affiliation? Is it important that they have visibly worked—-or volunteered—-within your idea of the black community? Do you silently cheer for them because you know the playing field is not leveled or have you counted them out because they are black which according to your math says “black” cannot win?

Do you watch black-women candidates the closest, or do you dismiss her altogether?  Must she be “familiar”?  Do you expect her to be traditional, yet a barrier-breaker?  Must she be almost perfect to obtain your support?

Meet Kamala Devi Harris, a senator and attorney from California. Arguably, she is an example of how politics is changing within the black community. Harris was not a part of the black political establishment.  She built strong multicultural alliances.  Although not the first, Harris has crossover appeal.

If Harris was local, would you vote for her as the majority of voters voted for President Obama in 2008, for Democratic Senator from New Jersey Cory Booker in 2013, for Republican Senator from South Carolina Tim Scott in 2014 or for Republican U. S. Representative from Utah Ludmya Bourdeau “Mia” Love in 2014?

Your answer may be contingent upon how strongly you believe in the importance of having diverse black political office holders.

Keisha Bell

Keisha Bell

These politicians bring to the forefront a political class that is faith-based and educated.  They have careers and orientation that is considered less community-based and more corporate as do many non-black candidates. Does this make them less “qualified”?

Harris and those like her challenge stereotypical perceptions of black Americans, as well as, the “look of leadership.” Would she meet your qualification?

Keisha Bell is an attorney, author, and public servant.

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