I would, at the first, say, what we want and what we need are not the necessarily the same, but after more thought, I believe they can be and probably should be. In a perfect world, our elected officials would be men and women of high moral character, honest, trustworthy, dedicated to protecting and defending the Constitution and keeping the Republic strong, safe, and free. We do not live in a perfect world! We live in a world filled with flawed human beings, of which we are one. There was only one perfect man and He died on the Cross for the sins of mankind. Nobody before or since rises to that level of perfection, so it is important that we face reality.
Please do not assume that my last statement means that I do not desire or expect elected officials to rise to above certain minimum levels, I most assuredly do. However, I also realize that politicians are, by and large, a group of unique individuals usually driven by super-sized egos and self-importance. Many of them, demonstrate a propensity to sell their influence for fame, fortune, and power and that is troubling. In electing a person to a political office, we are not electing a pastor, Sunday School teacher, or spiritual guardian, we are electing someone to govern. That being said, we have constitutional, legal, and societal norms that demand they stay within certain bounds and guidelines in the conducting of the duties of their office. If they violate those, they should and must be held accountable!
I am convinced that MOST AMERICANS care more about Policies than Character. You may argue that you do not, and you may not. But, I said, MOST AMERICANS not ALL AMERICANS. What do we do when it boils down to a choice between Good and Preferred Policy and Character in the candidates? What happens if one candidate has some questionable character traits but adheres to good and right policies and the other has some desirable and commendable character traits but ascribes to horrific policies and a political ideology? What do you do? Do you vote for character or supposed character, or do you vote for policy? That is a dilemma that millions have faced in virtually every election for President and often for Congress. Many times, neither candidate demonstrates commendable character and that makes the choice much easier.
Remember the choice between Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter? Carter’s two-bedroom home in Plains, Georgia has been assessed at $167,000. Unlike former President’s Clinton and Obama, he opted not to join corporate boards or deliver six-figure speeches because he didn’t want to “capitalize financially on being in the White House.” He has spent the years following his term as President building houses for Habitat for Humanity. He ordered the White House to turn the thermostats down to 65 degrees in the winter and urged all Americans to do the same to conserve energy. In many ways, Jimmy Carter demonstrated high moral character but when the votes were tabulated America choose Ronald Reagan because they believed, as do I, that Carter brought them the energy crisis and a dismal economy.
Donald J. Trump is a saint by no reasonable person’s standards, but then neither is Hillary Clinton, so the choice was not about character, but about policies. I found it interesting that there were many who insisted that because of Trump’s character flaws they could not and would not vote for him and deemed anyone that did an apostate and traitor to the Christian faith. If we were electing a national pastor, I might agree and would not have voted for either but the choice, as I saw it, was Policy and I voted for what I believed to be the best avenue to achieve the desired Policies for America. Forgive me for this insertion but someone asked, “Is it better to have an SOB in the White House who gets things done or a saintly incumbent whose policies do not work?”
I don’t recall the Democrats being offended by Bill Clinton’s moral failings and sexual escapades nor do I recall most of the Never Trump Adherents attacking Clinton’s character. Rather, the detractors railed against his Policy, not his Character. I am fully convinced that if Donald J. Trump were a Democrat we would be hearing nothing about his character today. That suggests, to me, that it is not Character that is of concern but Policies that drive the hatred and resistance against him.
Let me offer two more situations to add to my argument that Policy is more important to most voters than Character. Republican Representative Duncan Hunter in San Diego’s district will likely be reelected despite his indictment for using campaign funds to subsidize his family’s lifestyle. So much for character, I guess. Then on the Democratic side of the ledger, it is likely that the New Jersey Democrats will return Senator Bob Menendez to Washington even after his indictment and subsequent trial on corruption charges. The trial ended in a mistrial with a deadlocked jury, but the evidence revealed that there were clear ethical problems. I contend that when people go into the voting booth they vote political philosophy rather than perceived character. I am not arguing the rightness or the wrongness of either position, simply stating that this is a reality.
Now, let me state my position, I believe that what we need in elected officials are people who will FOLLOW GOOD POLICIES or policies that are constitutional and good for America. What do we need in elected officials? We need men and women who are committed to the constitution, the rule of law, and will keep their campaign promises. What we want often appears to be someone who will do what we want whether that is good for America or not. We tend to want people who look good, act according to our particular set of decorum guidelines, and fit the standardized model. If that is the case, then what we want and what we need are worlds apart.
Independent voters tend to determine many elections and among those Independents, most of them acknowledge that Policy determines their vote rather than the perception of a candidate’s character. Bob Stern, the former president of the Center for Government Studies conducted a course at UCLA Extension regarding the 2016 election. That class was attended almost exclusively by Los Angeles liberals. He proposed a scenario in which Donald J. Trump was a Democrat, who embraced the Democratic platform, and his first appointment to the Supreme Court would have been Merrick Garland, and his second nomination would have been Obama himself. Two-thirds of that class declared they would vote for Trump! That, in my view, clearly reveals a glaring truth that Party and Policies far exceed character in politics. Character issues can shipwreck a presidency or a political candidate but for the most part, Policy will always stand above the perception of character for most voters.
Rather than this being an argument that Policy is important and Character not, I am stating the present reality. I ask, “If you must choose Policy that will impact your life, preserve your liberties and freedoms, and create a safer world in which to live or Character with policies that do the opposite – WHICH DO YOU CHOOSE?” In the Bible, God used some bad people to do good things and often turned the nation of Israel from sin to righteousness. In politics, which affects life, we face difficult choices but ultimately must choose what is BEST and GOOD for the nation. You may have to swallow hard and cast your vote for a candidate, but if the choice is Policy that will produce the Best Good for America or Character that will drag us down – WHAT SAY YOU?
God bless you and God bless America!