Even amid a global pandemic that’s arrested the attention of the American public, it’s hard to forget that the 2020 election is right around the corner. With election day now less than two months away, Deseret News opinion editor Boyd Matheson joined Studio 5’s Brooke Walker to discuss ways voters can prepare when deciding who to cast their ballots for.

The peculiar nature of this virus-laden political season, Matheson argues, actually has its upsides. Without traditional campaigning and big rallies, voters can “get outside of the typical rhetoric,” Matheson tells Walker. “Politicians on both sides of the political spectrum know how to deliver a red-meat applause line ... which doesn’t help us really get to the questions we should be asking those candidates and what we should be evaluating before we cast our vote.”

So what sort of things should the public be evaluating in the run-up to an election? Matheson lays out five questions voters can ask themselves before heading to the polls:

In our opinion: The election is here. It’s time to prepare yourself
  • How is this candidate positioned to show real political courage?

American leaders are not elected for the good times, Matheson says, but to make difficult decisions when the going gets rough. In his own words: “Is this a candidate who is willing to lose an election in order to do the right thing?”

  • When you listen to this candidate, where does it lead your thoughts?

It can be easy, when listening to a candidate, to simply visualize that candidate in office. But according to Matheson, it’s more important that you find yourself thinking “about your family, about your community — about how things will be better if that person is helping to lead.”

  • What does this candidate stand for?

Matheson reminds viewers that it’s important to know not what candidates are against, but what they’re for. “We need to get out of this mudslinging,” Matheson asserts. “I know you’re against this other person. Show me your vision — what are you for?”

  • Does the candidate talk in generalities or in specifics?

“When we talk about things in generalities,” Matheson says, “we very rarely succeed. When we talk about things in the specific, we very rarely fail.” When it comes to getting things done, platitudes don’t hold a candle to plans.

  • Is the candidate more concerned about making friends or keeping promises?

Candidates should be less concerned about media perception and more concerned about doing the hard work and telling the truth, Matheson argues, “especially if that truth is unpopular.”

Watch Matheson’s full interview on Studio 5 here.