Character Matters

Tomorrow’s Election Day comes without my writing much about this year’s Presidential race. Really, at this late date there’s not much reason to do so: everyone who knows me knows who I’m supporting, and I imagine that virtually everyone who might read this has made his or her decision–in fact, has probably voted already.

It won’t change a single mind or a single vote, but I wouldn’t feel right if I didn’t write something about this most unusual Presidential campaign, and especially about the Republican candidate, because he poses a new problem for me.

I’ve been working on political campaigns for 48 years, and I’ve made it a point to respect my political adversaries and to assume
that whatever beliefs they hold, they probably hold sincerely. That habit has served me well: even when you suspect that it’s not realistic, it’s an approach to politics and politicians that keeps you humble and avoids bitterness.

But I haven’t been able to muster that attitude for this year’s Republican nominee. I don’t claim to have some ability to see the state of a person’s soul. I understand that he is a caring family man, he is said to be a generous benefactor, and he appears to show great personal discipline. But in a person who seeks the most powerful position in the world, we expect character that goes beyond  personal rectitude.

His constant changes of positions make it clear that he has no core political values except the desire to be elected. His manipulation of facts makes it clear that he will say anything to gain a vote. And his refusal to distance himself from the bigotry and hatred voiced by the President’s more extreme opponents shows that he lacks the courage needed in a Commander in Chief.

In Eyewitness to Power (2001), David Gergen quotes Alan Simpson as having said, “If you have integrity, nothing else matters.  If you don’t have integrity, nothing else matters.”

Those two Republicans have it right. Because of Mitt Romney’s lack of integrity, nothing else matters. Quite simply, he is not worthy of his followers’ loyalty.

Author: StgCoach

Retired teacher and public education leader. Pastoral musician, community activist, parliamentarian, and photographer.