Fan Friday—How to Vote in the Presidential Election

I’m certainly not going to tell you for whom to cast your vote, and I’m not going into the logistics of how to actually go and vote. What I’m trying to do here is narrow down the reasons to vote for a candidate. Or not.

In order to serve in the position of President of the United States, a person must meet certain constitutional requirements. Let’s assume that both qualify here, since they do.

*Note: third-party or fourth-party candidates will not be included here, only because we all know that any will be unlikely to win. It’s not impossible, just unlikely.

Here are the qualities that I think are necessary:

Leadership ability

Good character

Sound morals

Hmmm. Maybe I SHOULD consider third- and fourth-party candidates . . .

These are my top three. Should I have a dilemma in choosing, I would consider other issues as well. Please read on. It certainly looks as though it’s coming to that.

A good leader oversees the big picture, the whole enchilada; a good leader doesn’t need to know how to do every job, but does need to know how those jobs work in order to ensure that everything is achieved. A good leader must know when to ask questions and be willing to learn; a good leader must be able to delegate to competent people, but be willing to step in when things go south. A good leader must be of good character, or all his or her good intentions will fall by the wayside and nothing will ever be accomplished.

Qualities that show good character are honesty, integrity, humility, and respect. Many others could be added to this list, others that I’d consider secondary because, if one has these, one would exhibit those. Things like kindness and tolerance go hand in hand with respect.

Sound morals are often laughed at these days, but are still important, even if one doesn’t quite realize what morals are. I wouldn’t vote for a candidate simply because of his or her professed religion or piety, but morals are, after all, based on religion—yes, whether or not you believe this. Read the Ten Commandments. Pretend it’s merely literature, if that makes you feel better, and spend some time thinking about them.

Pay particular attention to these:

Do not murder

Do not commit adultery

Do not steal

Do not lie

Most people believe these, yes? These are morals; these are part of one’s character. These are things to which a good leader ascribes.

[insert brief lesson on Christianity] A Christian is forgiven. Most candidates claim Christianity at one time or another. However, being a Christian means asking God for forgiveness and repenting. Repenting means you will try your best not to do [insert sin] ever again.

And sin itself means this is impossible—you might well commit this sin again. But because you are a Christian, you will try as hard as you can NOT to do it again.

Think of it like this: you are on a diet, which makes you a dieter. As a dieter, you are not allowed to eat a dozen cookies, but you do it anyway. Does this mean the diet failed? No. You failed, but you vow to avoid eating a dozen cookies the next day. Some days you succeed, on others you fail, but it doesn’t mean you’ve stopped dieting.

So when a candidate claims Christianity yet shows no or loose or questionable morals, you wonder about his or her morals and, by extension, his or her character. And this is where it gets tricky, because a Christian will strive to be, well, perfect, even though it’s impossible because of sin.

This is where you must examine your candidate of choice and determine his or her motivation and contrition. No one is going to have perfect morals (or character, or leadership). This doesn’t mean you would choose the least objectionable candidate, but it might mean exactly that if you’re unable to determine if your choice possesses these three traits: leadership, character, morals.

Now that we know what we’re looking for, how do you decide if the candidates possess these three basic qualities?

You look at their leadership records—no, it doesn’t have to be in politics, but there should be some leadership experience. Scroll back up and look at the definition of a good leader.

You look at their character. Read that again too.

You look at their morals. Ditto.

Where do you find the information? You read between the lines that the media feeds us. All the media, not only the major networks. And not only the rabble-rousing sites. You have to look at both, and you have to think. You can’t just have a knee-jerk reaction to whatever sensational story of the day is trending.

Has Clinton or Trump been in a good leader in their chosen field?

Has Clinton or Trump shown good character?

Do Clinton or Trump possess morals?

These may or may not be yes or no questions—you have to research, and you have to think.

Look at their platforms. Don’t worry about the details—what the candidate has actually done, to the minute detail; exactly what he has promised during a campaign? Look at the top three, leadership, character, and morals, in respect to this.

For instance, Clinton’s top three issues on the list are fair tax, addiction and substance abuse, and a workable economy. Has she shown leadership, character, and morals as they relate to these?

Trump’s top three positions on the list are cybersecurity, veterans’ affairs, and trade. Has he shown leadership, character, and morals as they relate to these?

Let’s go a bit further down the lists:




Campaign finance reform

Campus sexual assault

Climate change



Tax plan


National defense



Foreign policy/ISIS

Do you see a recurring theme? Aside from the fact that Clinton’s list is in alphabetical order, her issues are more personal; Trump’s seem to have a national, or big picture, theme.

That, it seems to me, is one of the key differences between parties. Democrats want to fix people on the micro level, Republicans want to fix the country and the people will sort out the rest.

On that basis, and those who know me won’t be surprised, I’d go with the Republican candidate.

And then we’re back to those top three qualities . . .

I did go to the candidates’ websites and found some interesting things.

Both seem to want many of the same things and actually hold the same opinions on the issues, but differ in how to achieve these things.

The websites themselves are arranged similarly, but here’s a big difference I found:

While Trump’s page on his tax plan give a list of changes, Clinton’s tax plan reads more like a blog post/media announcement with links to interviews or speeches she’s given. I’m not sure if it’s the male/female dynamic or party differences. I just found it interesting, either way.

So I’m not going to tell you how to vote, or which way to lean, but I do think it all comes back to those three qualities: leadership, character, morals. And of course, either candidate may possess or have done or be pushing for something that is a deal-breaker either way, regardless of anything else.

This election is so tense, so acrimonious, so _____ [pick any negative word], that nearly everyone has severed some kind of relationship over it. But in just a few days, it’ll all be over but the shouting. And shouting there will be, on one side or another. Maybe both. Is it really worse than any other election since the advent of social media? Hard to tell. And I’m not willing to do the research on that!





Characters and Camaros

Today, my guest is Sharon Hopkins, author of Killerwatt, Killerfind, and the soon-to-be-released Killertrust. You all met her husband, Bill, last week – together these two are the Deadly Duo. READ THEIR BOOKS, and you’ll know why; between them, they’re showing a respectable body count as per their novels (disclaimer, in case anyone reading is a smart aleck – or a government agent).

So, here’s Sharon:

People often ask me, “How do you come up with your characters?”

My short answer is, “They are all in my head, waiting to get out.” And that’s true—

both the animate and inanimate ones.

When I began getting the idea for my first book, Killerwatt, the character of my protagonist Rhetta McCarter was already rattling around my head, but I had to bring her to life. Before I even began writing the story, I started with a new clean document and began typing everything I knew about Rhetta—her occupation, spouse, pets, birthday, age, height, weight, what she liked to wear, and what her little idiosyncrasies were. I printed out the sheet with her info, and keep it by my laptop for reference. I never count on my memory to remember everything about her. I add to the sheet as every story goes on, and she reveals more about herself to me. I add those facts to my notes.

I do the same for all of the other principal characters in the books, too. Their age, spouses, where they went to school, their education, where they work, what they drive, etc.

Now the trick is how to tell the reader about the characters?

The way I like to do it is by describing actions and through dialog. Dialog gives the reader immediate insight into the character. To dialog, I add mannerisms and actions. No information dumping allowed. I release a little at a time, just enough to cover a point in the story. By the end of the book, the reader knows who she is and what she’s like, but can’t really go to a specific location for all the description.

Now, let’s talk about an inanimate object as a character. In this case, the secondary character, who is her Camaro.

When I put Rhetta behind the wheel of a classic 1979 restored Camaro that she calls Cami, I never realized how popular the car would become with the readers. Rhetta obviously loves her car, and when something bad happened to it in Killerwatt, many readers wrote to me and said they were devastated to read about Cami’s fate. I tell them to read Killerfind, which starts out with a story about Rhetta’s search to replace Cami, and leads to two murders and something exciting concerning Cami.

Cami is now a regular character. The nice thing about inanimate objects is that they can come back to life!

So characters don’t always have to be people. They can be houses, cars, motorcycles, cats, dogs, etc. Just make sure that you, the writer, know as much as you can about the characters when you begin writing about them. And listen and make notes about them when they tell you about themselves.

Thanks, Robin, for inviting me today. I’ve sure enjoyed the visit!


Sharon is a branch manager for a mortgage office of a Missouri bank. She also owns the original Cami, the 1979 Camaro featured in her books.

She is a member of the Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, the Southeast Missouri Writers’ Guild, and the Missouri Writers’ Guild. Her short story, DEATH BEE HUMBLE, appeared in the SEMO Writer’s Guild Anthology for 2012, and her newest short story, DEATH TO PONDER will be in a mystery anthology this spring.

Her first Rhetta McCarter book, KILLERWATT was nominated for a 2011 Lovey award for Best First Novel and was a finalist in the 2012 Indie Excellence Awards. Her second book, KILLERFIND, was released in July, 2012.

Besides writing, Sharon’s hobbies include painting, fishing, photography, flower gardening, and restoring muscle cars with her son, Jeff.

Sharon also spent 30 years as an Appaloosa Horse Club judge, where she was privileged to judge all over the US, Canada, Mexico and Europe.

She lives on the family compound near Marble Hill, Missouri with her husband, Bill, next door to her son, Jeff, his wife, Wendy and her grandson, Dylan, plus two dogs, one cat and assorted second generation Camaros.

Her books, KILLERWATT and KILLERFIND can be found on, or directly from her home page at

The third book, KILLERTRUST, will be available in 2013.

Signed copies are available at All on the Same Page Bookstore, 11052 Olive Blvd., Creve Coeur, Missouri.