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Vetting Candidates: The Art of Gaining Honest Insight

Published in Blog on April 18, 2022 by Wesley A Whittaker

There is one task that it is recommended every volunteer with the Convention of States (COS) perform at least once. Vetting a candidate for public office. 

Personally, I believe we have reached a point in our nation’s history where vetting candidates should be mandatory and should be done at every opportunity. And then we should all compare notes and publish our findings.

Michigan’s State Grassroots Coordinator, William “Bill” Pacey, likes to meet legislators and candidates for coffee or a meal and discuss and establish a rapport. He likes to get to know them and find out why they are running for public office. He asks them questions about how their family feels about their decision and when their political philosophy developed. He enquires about their upbringing, their education, and their religious and moral beliefs as he builds a relationship with them as people.

“I meet with them on a regular basis,” said Bill. “Until we develop that relationship and I understand who they are, and they trust me. I have worked with my State Representative for 6 years. It took me 3 years to develop that relationship where he began to trust me.”

Regional Captain Bruce Finlayson is more direct and gets right to the point.

“I just ask them if they believe that the federal government is out of control?” he says. “If they answer that they do, I ask if they would like to take action to protect our liberty and freedoms? Then I set the petition down in front of them and offer them my pen.”

So, what is ”Vetting?” 

Vetting is the process of making a careful and critical investigation of someone, especially to ensure that they are suitable for a job requiring loyalty or public trust. The word critical, in this context, means using objective analysis of available facts, evidence, observations, and arguments to form a judgment. It is no longer enough to have a candidate for office who has a great personality or can make eloquent and moving speeches. There must be a sufficient degree of character and integrity behind the smile and the confident demeanor.

The COS project is about returning America’s operational structure to the original state provided by the Framers. We must remember that they were revolutionaries. They did not want to live under the rule of kings, lords, barons, or even a cleric. They set up this federal republic so that power flowed from the bottom – the people – up to the elected leaders. All the problems we are having with the overreach and near-tyrannical control coming out of Washington DC is that we have abandoned and forgotten that fact. We should vet every candidate for public office right down to the school board member.

Attend your school board, township, city council, and county commission meetings. Find out who these people are and invite them to meet you for breakfast. Ask them what they see as their priority issues? Every time you ask them a question, sit back and listen. Give them time to collect their thoughts and don’t interrupt. Give them a sense that you sincerely want to hear their thoughts and are giving them a safe atmosphere to say what they really feel.

When they answer, ask them why they feel that way? Ask them what solutions they envision for resolving the issue? Every time you ask a question, sit back and listen openly without judgment. Don’t interrupt. You will be amazed what someone will tell you when they feel you are giving them the opportunity to talk without having to be defensive. Finally, ask them why they ran for or are running for the office? If it is then appropriate, ask them what YOU can do to help them?

If we all begin doing this with every person who runs for or already is serving in public office, we will soon be able to sort out the true public servants from the grifters. As the Bible says in chapter 7 of the New Testament Book of Matthew, verses 15 – 20, 

“A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit; neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.”

People, by their nature, will talk about themselves if you give them an opportunity. By practicing the art of active listening, you will quickly develop a rapport and you will learn everything there is to know about the character and qualifications of the other person.

Vetting candidates or officeholders with respect to their support of the COS Resolution starts with establishing what I call “respectful rapport.” I let them know right away that I understand they are busy and thank them for their time. I tell them that I “am a member of a large statewide organization that supports adoption and passage of House Joint Resolution E – The Convention of States Resolution.” I then tell them that I am here simply to ascertain their understanding of the Resolution and answer any questions they may have about the Article V process. Then I shut up and smile. If they agree with the idea, ask them to pledge to vote for it when the time comes. 

We are in a war for the soul of our nation. We must recruit supporters at every level to magnify our influence with the State Legislators who will then vote to pass the COS Resolution. Each person reading this must share it with two people who will each share it with two people. In very little time, we will have a tidal wave of support for COS rolling over Lansing. If we each practice this with every public servant we can talk with, we will shortly have a comprehensive database of who is who in the zoo.

That is when we can truly clean the House. 

To do your part, sign the petition by clicking here

If a legislator you know agrees with the Convention of States mission, the pledge for them to sign can be found here

Wesley Whittaker is a Michigan State Content Writer and a member of the Legislative Liaison team and can be contacted at

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