How should young people think about the election?

John Legend:  Well it’s hard for me to say how somebody should approach their decision on how to vote. I think a lot of times what people end up doing is kind of a gut feeling. And part of it, I think, there is some validity to the whole gut feeling thing where you can look into someone’s eyes and try to get a sense of their character, and how they carry themselves, and how they answer certain questions, and their consistency over time, and the messages that they speak of. I think you do get a certain sense for their character. And I think it is important to elect someone with integrity and with character. But you also want someone who, when they get into office, are going to fight for the things that you believe are important.

And so if a certain person is in a certain party, and the party line says, “Do this, this, this, and this,” and you don’t agree with this, this, this, and this, don’t elect them. Even if you think they’re cool. Even if you think they’re funny. Even if you think they’re nice or whatever it is – if you don’t agree with them on the major positions that are important to you, it doesn’t matter how nice they are, or how cool they are, or how honest they seem. If they’re not going to do the things in office that are a priority to you, then don’t vote for them.

And so I think issues need to be important to you. And where there are similarities among the issues where I think, for instance, among the Democrats, [John] Edwards, [Hillary] Clinton and [Barack] Obama, there isn’t a huge difference between what each of them believes on the major issues.

One issue that is a big difference, I think, is how they felt about Iraq at the beginning of the war. They’ve kind of merged beliefs now, but at the beginning of the war, one of them was clearly against it, and two of them voted for it. I think that’s a major difference and that’s something to think about.

But overall I think character and leadership style is important once you’ve kind of minimized the difference in their issue stances. And so I think that’s something that people should examine. And if you can get a sense of their judgment, and their integrity, and their ability to follow through on what they say they’re going to do, vote for that person as long as you agree with what they say they’re gonna do.

Recorded on: Jan 29, 2008

Don't elect someone you disagree with, even you think they're cool, Legend says.

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