That was a winning argument in 2012 when a vulnerable incumbent president won a second term by making his reelection a referendum not on his performance in office but on his opponent. So it shouldn’t be surprising that this year’s race is heavily focused on character.
Yes, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have talked about abortion, immigration, “the wall,” Vladimir Putin, gun control and dozens of other public policy issues and proposals. But each nominee quickly returned to his or her opponent’s values, integrity and character, eventually declaring the adversary “not qualified” to hold the nation’s highest office.
In a sense, both are merely following Obama’s lead.
Rothenberg has a strong case here, but does not examine, nor do I think Obama ever considered, the larger implications of Obama’s approach, and I am not just talking about the tone of this election. Of all the high profile public servants I have ever met, Mitt Romney is unquestionably of the deepest integrity and highest character. There could be, and probably should be, books written in defense of that statement. For Obama’s tactic to work he had to shift the national understanding of what values, character and integrity really are. More accurately he had to use and cement into place shifts in that understanding that were already brewing.
That shift, more than any policy or governmental action, is what will mark the Obama administration as one of the nations worst.
The most important question that now confronts the nation is not Clinton or Trump, but instead whether it will continue down the path Obama has lead us on in this regard or reverse course and return to the values, integrity and character that have made the nation great. Rothenberg says:
Both Trump and Clinton have so much personal baggage that it was always inevitable that, if they were the two parties’ nominees, the race would largely be about character and integrity.
That is a very true statement. His personal baggage notwithstanding, Trump is preferable as president to Clinton if for no other reason than his personal baggage never risked, or likely compromised, national security and because his stated policies are better, if not ideal. Nonetheless neither Trump nor Clinton are well positioned to lead a reversal of the ugly trend that Obama has set us upon with regards to our understanding of values, integrity and character. That leadership will have to come from other places if we are to reverse course.
Church has been the traditional leader of the nation in this regard. Church no longer retains the massive societal influence it once held, but it can gain it back, and I believe it must. We have just established that such leadership will not be forthcoming from government and I shutter to contemplate what might arise if the church does not step forward.
We have as Christians in America spent so long focused on issues that we have neglected the basics of values, integrity and character. Our issue stances should flow from those things, but in current times it seems that the issues try to simply stand on their own. It is time for the church to change course. We are losing on our issues because our issues have no roots. Like the proverbial house on a poor foundation we are being blown down by the prevailing winds when we should be standing as a bulwark in the face of them.
The key to overcoming the ugliness that Obama has let lose lies not in the election, but in the hearts and minds of every Christian in the nation. Are we willing to use the key?