Every four years Caffeinated Politics has made an endorsement for president. Each of the past four elections my sentiments were sincere, and the policy highlighted met with the needs of the time. This year I again make my call for president, but the issue driving my reasoning is by far the most important of my lifetime. That is because presidential character is on the ballot. This is the one election in our lifetime we absolutely must get correct.
The continuous bombast, crudeness, and reckless behavior from Donald Trump over the past four years were far more than this nation should have had to endure. It was due to his rants and childish ways that I retreated during a portion of each day to read history. I simply sought refuge from his self-generated chaos. But the reading always underscored the stark differences about leadership, decency, and virtue from the past as opposed to the sad reality of Trump.
Earlier this year I read the 1912 nomination speech from Warren G, Harding, then an Ohio newspaper editor, for President William Taft at the Republican Convention. The following portion showcases one of those moments of the stark contrast between then and now.
The nomination speech declared that Taft was “as wise and patient as Abraham Lincoln, as modest and dauntless as Ulysses S. Grant, as temperate and peace-loving as Rutherford B. Hayes, as patriotic and intellectual as James A. Garfield, as courtly and generous as Chester A. Arthur, as learned in the law as Benjamin Harrison, as sympathetic and brave as William McKinley……”
No honest person in the Republican Party today could pen a similar type of statement about Trump. No one in the future will wish to have their political career attached to Trump. Character, after all, is not a word that anyone can employ in a favorable way towards Trump.
We have always had a president in our nation who was able to show empathy and use words from the office to bring a nation together during times of crisis. That quality of a president has never, perhaps, been understood more clearly than now when we view its glaring absence.
I was on-air at WDOR the night President Reagan spoke to the nation following the horrific explosion of Space Shuttle Challenger. In my lifetime there is perhaps no other speech that so clearly demonstrates the role of a president at times of national crisis, or the heights of rhetorical balm that can come with the office. I sat in the broadcast studio and was moved to tears. Contrast national moments such as that one to the current occupant in the White House who continually stokes words to further the anger and resentments of people for partisan advantage.
Two episodes ring out that clearly demonstrate Trump’s lack of a sound character being most obvious, and troubling. During the 2016 campaign, he made fun of a disabled journalist. It was a truly pathetic display. During his term in office, he made one of the most gut-wrenching displays when he showed poor behavior toward the widow of Army Sgt. La David Johnson, who was killed in Niger. Trump failed to offer comforting words and then petulantly defended himself on Twitter. It was almost unbearable to watch play out on the national stage. The lack of his empathy allowed for some of his lowbrow followers to bring down a withering barrage of abuse on the grieving widow during what we all know was the worst moment of her life.
Those two examples demonstrate that Trump is not able to either resist being mean or fails to grasp the requirement of the office to lift others up when they need the nation’s support.
The episodes where a lack of character was evident are all too numerous and well-known. Veterans will never forget when Trump showed smallness when at first he refused to keep the White House flag at half-mast to honor the late Senator John McCain.
Character matters. We say those words often but also take the concept for granted. When the lack of character is so obvious and smacks at us daily, it becomes a reminder of how much this nation lost when Trump secured the votes of the Electoral College last election.
This year we must do what is right for the nation when we cast a ballot for president. We must do so for our collective national soul.
I can state upfront and with pride of being a Joe Biden guy! I have long known Biden to be a smart and capable man. In 1987 I supported him financially when he sought the Democratic Party nomination for the White House. One can never forget his earnestness in fighting the atrocities that were taking place in the Balkans, or his great work on the Judiciary Committee in stopping Robert Bork from getting to the Supreme Court. His background and breadth of knowledge on international issues make him a seasoned and remarkable public servant.
I can rattle off issues that Biden supports concerning climate change or tax policy which lands at my philosophical foundation. But all that is secondary to the core need of the nation. That is to again have a leader in the White House who understands why decency and virtue are vital for the strength of our nation. That is far and above thy most important reason voters must cast a ballot for Biden.
Voters can talk about their values or religious faith, but this is the time to prove all that is more than just mere words. After all, the idea of virtue is one that requires our diligence.
The idea of virtuous people in government was not lost on the Founders. They wrote and spoke of its worthiness repeatedly. Good character matters, and as individuals, we have a role to make sure the person sitting in the Oval Office is as solid and good as the people. In our republic, we have a responsibility to promote honest leaders in office who will make wise, fact-based decisions. When they fail at that most fundamental requirement of the office the voters must hold them accountable.
There is no way to pretend there are shades of a difference this year in choice for president. And there is no way not to fully grasp the call of our civics lessons from those many years ago. There is only one choice for the nation.