June 20, 2008

Choosing a Virtuous President

CT has an insightful article this month about picking a president. It's basic premise is that we should strive to select a President who is virtuous, for it is the character of the person who becomes commander in chief that will be of decisive importance, more so than campaign rhetoric. They write, "In addition, campaign policies are illustrative at best and deceitful at worst. Politicians offer proposals that they very well know can never be enacted in the form proposed or have the effects they claim." We've been in the midst of heavy campaigning for about a year and a half now, and the campaign rhetoric has been ubiquitous. And we're only going to hear more and more as November approaches. But this thoughtful piece encourages us to think past rhetoric to character. Now, I'm not assuming that obviously slants the decision toward either McCain or Obama in this election, though in the end I will be making a choice for one over the other, and the issue of virtue will undoubtedly be an important factor. But I think it is vital to remember that it is the unforseen situations, the difficult and unpopular decisions, that will make or a break a presidency. And virtue (courage, hope, temperance) is essential to making those decisions when they come. I think this piece is a great example of reflective Christian thinking about electoral politics. Because Taylor and McCloskey point us toward the heart of the matter, the need for an upright, respectable, ably equipped person to lead our country. This doesn't mean policies aren't important: in fact, policy positions should reflect virtue. But campaign rhetoric and policy position papers aren't enough. It's real moral fortitued that is required, especially for one of the most difficult jobs in the world.

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