In the run up to every election we get into the same discussion– how much does the character of an elected official weigh on your decision of whether to vote for them. And I’m not quite sure that we understand the question or come up with the right answer.
Character can be defined as who you are when no one else is around– no one else is looking.
It is at this time that you are truly you– what you choose to do, spend your time doing, and how you choose to spend you money show a lot about who you really are behind the mask that most of us wear.
Some masks are thin, and we see pretty much the actual person. When it comes to politicians the mask is thicker, obscuring the view of the wearer. That’s probably why we have the reaction we do to these kinds of people!
Nothing illustrates the importance of character more than what’s been going on in the news recently. Larry Craig’s restroom escapades did a lot of damage to Republicans– not because he is or isn’t a homosexual, or did or did not plead guilty, etc.– but because it told the American people that he was something else than he claimed to be. He took a stand and ended up tainting that stand, regardless of what the facts are.
Fred Thompson and Mitt Romney are having trouble because they’ve said things on one side and now claims to have different beliefs. Any time someone goes from one side on an issue to another side people naturally ask “what do they really believe?”
This is why character is important, and it is the elephant in the room. We want elected officials that say what they mean and mean what they say. We want to know what to expect from them, so that we can rest assured that they will hold to internal core principles when the going gets rough.
It’s incumbent upon anyone running for office that they are transparent and consistent. I’m sorry to say that many are not.