Debate:Do we elect a person or their policy?

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Well, obviously there is a lot to consider when voting for someone in Office, but do you think we should base our votes more on who that person is, or what policies they represent? An example of voting for the person would be something like: "I am voting for them because I believe they are trustworthy and will do his best to help the people of this country." If this were the case, then ad hominem attacks are perfectly acceptable (if their within reason) because it would be questioning the persons character. An example of voting for a persons Policies would be something like: "I am voting for this person because I believe they will best represent me when it comes to investing in Alternative energy" (or something like that).

Opinions?--Passerby25 14:41, 5 January 2009 (EST)

To address what I think the literal debate question is, and at the risk of sounding like in sitting on the fence, I'm not sure why this should be an either/or situation. An individual might vote for (and help to elect) both the man and the policy, or only one. Or neither - but like the alternative even less. Or somebody might vote for a politician because they shared the same ethnic background or religion or because they were paid to do it.
To address the introductory paragraph question on how should we vote, then I'd say it's pretty obvious that we should base our decisions on the stated policy of the politician - though we should use what we understand of their character to help us to decide whether they will, in fact, carry out that policy.--Bobbing up 15:02, 5 January 2009 (EST)
While poorly written (well, typos), this is the giant question of modern republics. Inverting it, does a representative vote their conscience (the person) or vote what their constituents seem to want (the policy)? Would you rather vote for an honest legislator you disagree with or a dishonest one who will vote your political desires? MOAR DEBATE NEEDED!!!! ħumanUser talk:Human 01:33, 28 March 2009 (EDT)
Hm, that poses an interesting question. Most people would probably vote for the honest politician, because at least he can "keep" his promises rather then the dishonest. The policies of a politician means nothing if they aren't willing to keep them up when they get into office. --MikeEtc 09:34, 31 March 2009 (EDT)

The person is more important because they have to govern effectively, this involves expertise on the social conventions and give-and-take needed to get policy made. If you vote on policy alone you can wind up with a Dennis Kucinich or an Alan Keyes depending on ones views, and nothing actually gets done because their flaky personalities get in the way. And of course a charismatic personality has the effect of getting the public more strongly behind their policies. Obama, Reagan, and JFK all had this trait; Bush and Nixon, not so much. Secret Squirrel 09:49, 31 March 2009 (EDT)

You are correct, SS, that voting for the person is more important. However, most people, I think, vote for policy rather than the person, at least in local elections. Presidential elections are probably the one exception to this. Too many local elections come down to one or two issues, hence voting on issues, while presidential elections are about everything, hence voting for the person. Z3rotalk 10:25, 31 March 2009 (EDT)
In the UK it's even more complicated. You vote for an MP to represent your area, and the party with the most MPs forms the government. However, the current Labour government has many MPs of 'old Labour' socialist-leaning beliefs who don't agree with the government on numerous issues. So I have to choose whether to vote for the MP as a person, the party leadership as people, or the party leadership's policies.-- Kriss AkabusiAAAWOOOGAAAR!!1 10:42, 31 March 2009 (EDT)