The Defining Issue of the 2012 Presidential Race?
Image: Illustration by Amanda Duffy

Wisdom

Amy E. Black is associate professor of political science and chair of the department of politics and international relations at Wheaton College in Illinois.

Forecasting election outcomes is dangerous business, but I can make one prediction with reasonable certainty: Whomever we elect President next year will face significant challenges on at least one political issue that affects millions of lives and costs billions of government dollars, yet no one will debate it in the course of the presidential campaign.

In the buildup to the 2000 election, who could have predicted that the person elected President would face three coordinated terrorist attacks on our own soil and lead the nation into its longest war? As we prepared to vote in 2008, few expected that uprisings across North Africa and the Middle East would topple autocratic regimes and threaten several others.

As we evaluate the 2012 presidential candidates, we should think first and foremost about choosing the person we trust most to make wise decisions on whatever broad range of issues will come his or her way. We should choose the candidate who demonstrates the best judgment.

Every official campaign publication, every public speech by the candidate and his or her representatives, every utterance, however scripted or off-the-cuff, is significant. All of these communications explicitly or implicitly receive the candidate's approval and reveal aspects of his or her character. We expect rhetoric will be hard-hitting and tough, but we should also expect it to be accurate and fair. Those who are quick to distort and skirt the edge of the truth publicly are even less likely to make wise choices when no one appears to be looking.

It is always a great ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

July/August
Subscribe to CT and get one year free.
From Issue:
Read These Next
Also in this IssueIntercultural Fiesta Fail
Intercultural Fiesta Fail Subscriber Access Only
'We are all alike!' doesn't fly in a fly-infested hut in El Salvador.
Current IssueWant to Help Christians Stay in the Middle East? Start with Your Vacation.
Want to Help Christians Stay in the Middle East? Start with Your Vacation. Subscriber Access Only
Both pilgrims and pleasure seekers allow Arab believers to resist exodus amid ISIS.
RecommendedThe Real Differences Between Mormons and Orthodox Christians
The Real Differences Between Mormons and Orthodox ChristiansSubscriber Access Only
And whether they really matter in the presidency.
TrendingFinding My 'True Self' As a Same-Sex Attracted Woman
Finding My 'True Self' As a Same-Sex Attracted Woman
In my young-adult struggle with sexual identity, both legalistic condemnation and progressive license left me floundering.
Editor's PickForgive Us Our Debts: How Christian College Grads Pay the Price
Forgive Us Our Debts: How Christian College Grads Pay the Price
Evangelical schools work to capture the real cost of student loans.
Christianity Today
The Defining Issue of the 2012 Presidential Race?
hide thisNovember November

In the Magazine

November 2011

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.