Quick to Listen/Episode 21 |34min

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

Historian John Fea on how Americans’ understanding of morality has evolved and how your view of government affects your answer.
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 ...

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

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

April
Subscribe to CT and get one year free.
Read These Next
close