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On vetting your candidates: try googling their names

This Magazine Staff

Before a political party settles on a candidate to run in an election they engage in the immensely important process of vetting. This is simply the examination of and research into the candidate in question: findout out about their personal history; their legislative or executive record; and everything else about the person so they don’t unwittingly choose a candidate with skeletons in their closet.
Naturally, no amount of research will uncover every slip-up made by potential candidates. Some candidates will pass through, undetected by their party’s elders and run their campaigns, only to be found out later (if at all). Some, however, are so bad you’re left wondering how it’s possible they weren’t found out earlier. This election has its example: Julian West, the NDP candidate for MP in the Saanich-Gulf Islands riding, recently dropped out for going nude in front of minors, some 12 years ago. In the United States, John McCain’s running mate, Sarah Palin, is obviously the product of poor vetting. This is as certain as anything after her pathetic display of vacuity in the Katie Couric interview.
Why weren’t these two unelectables discovered earlier? Could the people making the final decision on who runs be forgiven: they are, in fact, mere humans. We all make mistakes. And I’m sure they put at their disposal every single research tool to uncover all the relevant details. Well, sadly this is an assumption I should purge myself of. When the leader of the NDP, Jack Layton, was asked how thoroughly the party vetts its portential candidates, he assured us they would take more stringent measures in the future. As he put it:
“We thought it had been adequate. Evidently not . . . We’re reviewing it, no question about that. In this era of Googles and everything else there’s obviously new techniques we may be able to employ.”
First, why did he call it “Googles”? Second, they didn’t do a google search in vetting Julian West? The party passed up a chance to find something that could hurt them because they couldn’t squeeze five minutes of basic internet browsing into their jam-packed day? Every high school student knows they can google something if it has been reported in the past, and the NDP can’t google one of their potential candidates for Member of Parliament? The Republican Party couldn’t spend more time researching Palin’s credentials and capacities?
The state of our presumptive representatives is appaling. They are increasingly anti-intellectual, and now anti-information – hopefully it’s only to their own detriment.

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