Quick to Listen/Episode 21 | 34 min
In a Trump v. Clinton Election, Should Character Matter?

Last week, theologian and ethicist Wayne Grudem offered his endorsement of GOP candidate Donald Trump. In “Why Voting for Donald Trump Is a Morally Good Choice,” Grudem conceded that Trump had been far from perfect:

He is egotistical, bombastic, and brash. He often lacks nuance in his statements. Sometimes he blurts out mistaken ideas (such as bombing the families of terrorists) that he later must abandon. He insults people. He can be vindictive when people attack him. He has been slow to disown and rebuke the wrongful words and actions of some angry fringe supporters. He has been married three times and claims to have been unfaithful in his marriages. These are certainly flaws, but I don’t think they are disqualifying flaws in this election.

Grudem concedes that while Trump’s character is problematic, he concludes that the billionaire is “a good candidate with flaws” because “most of the policies he supports are those that will do the most good for the nation.”

Trump isn’t the only candidate whose reputation has taken a hit because of moral transgressions. Hillary Clinton has also been rebuffed for her character, most recently for using her own personal email server, rather than the State Department’s, when sending classified emails as Secretary of State (ultimately resulting in both FBI and State Department investigations).

Our views on the role of government—whether it’s there primarily to protect people or “keep the peace,” plays a significant role in the priority we give character when judging candidates, says Messiah College historian John Fea.

“If you believe that government has the responsibility to promote the common good and general welfare and moral good of the society and it’s ordained by God to do that, then for me, I would probably want someone with character and is interested in those questions at least,” he said.

Fea joined Morgan Lee and guest host Amy Jackson to discuss how Americans have historically voted on character in previous elections, how the mass media has changed the country’s understanding of a candidate’s moral failures, and when, if ever, the ends justify the means.

Additional Reading

John Fea’s blog The Way of Improvement Leads Home

The Theology of Ted Cruz

Jake Meador: The Evangelical Case for Voting for David Duke

November
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Christianity Today
In a Trump v. Clinton Election, Should Character Matter?