As the Editor-in-Chief of TheCollegeConservative.com, I take seriously the responsibility that we have as conservatives to preserve life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for coming generations.

Early in an election cycle that has arguably already seen a record number of qualified candidates enter the race, I will admit that I’ve had a very difficult time determining whom I intend to support for the nomination. While the Democrat contenders have little variation in their stances on important issues, Republican candidates differ greatly, which makes the task of choosing both easier and more difficult.

Conservatives are notorious for being highly selective in their choices–principled, if you will–but they’re also known to hurt their own chances because they get stuck on one issue or another.  I think that, if conservatives want to have a chance to see a solid contender in 2016, we’re going to have to stop doing these three things:

  • Stop saying someone isn’t conservative merely because you disagree on one political issue.  You’re never going to agree with any candidate 100%, unless you are the candidate, so stop.
  • Stop saying things like “I won’t support a Mormon,” or “I won’t support a Catholic.” I’m an evangelical Christian, but ultimately, I want a president who will uphold my values. I don’t care how he or she gets there, as long as the things that matter to me are upheld. Additionally, I would advise you not to support or oppose a candidate based solely on one bad — or good thing — you may have heard them say.

As I mentioned, this primary season has been a real challenge for me. I can agree with almost every candidate on at least one issue, but that’s obviously not enough to win my support. I intentionally do not read campaign emails, even though I get dozens every week, because it ruins my ability to be objective. I don’t want you to tell me that you deserve my support; I want you to show me why you deserve my support.

Naturally, this position favors those with governmental experience; however, I found that the best way to determine who I believed to be most conservative was to index all the candidates–both declared and prospective–and score them on a variety of different issues.

This index scores candidates on ten different policy areas, as well as their charisma and their relatability. The issues are weighted to reflect what I perceive to be the most important values to conservative voters; taxation, life, and foreign policy being weighted the heaviest. Issues such as crime and drugs, and healthcare were weighted only slightly less. The issues scored were as follows:

  • foreign policy
  • taxation
  • life
  • faith and morals
  • religious liberties
  • marriage
  • healthcare
  • immigration
  • gun rights
  • charisma
  • relatability
  • crime and drugs

There are over twenty candidates declared to vie for the 45th presidency. Prior to completing this indexing process, I did not yet know which one I would support for the presidency. While I now intend to support the candidate my research showed to be the most conservative, I would encourage you to do the same thing I did to decide who should be supported by your sacred right to vote.  Weight the issues according to importance in your mind, and research what each candidate actually says on each issue.

Most importantly, be objective. You might be surprised to learn that who you thought you supported might not actually align closest to your values.

Zachary be releasing his personal picks for “Most Conservative of 2016” on Twitter, starting Monday, July 13th, culminating with his own personal presidential endorsement on Friday, July 17th.  Follow him on Twitter at @ZacharyGFreeman, and use the hashtag #TCCUS.