The news cycle has been kind to Donald Trump. Regardless of whatever bias may exist in the media, events of the past few weeks have provided an ideal context for Trump to campaign on security. Like it or not, campaigns based on what government should do — rather than what it should not — resonate better with voters. National security, from threats both foreign and domestic, stands as one area where Republicans confidently advocate for more government. Trump has taken advantage of that.
His rhetoric on that front provoked this intriguing comment, reported by Reuters:
“We’re not electing a husband, we’re not electing a preacher, we’re electing a leader,” said Kay White, a Republican delegate to the nominating convention from Tennessee who originally supported U.S. Senator Ted Cruz of Texas in the early nominating contests, or primaries.
For White, it’s a one-issue election. “Security,” she said. “Nothing else matters.”
True, we’re not electing a husband-in chief. Nor, as it has been said by some evangelical leaders, are we electing pastor-in-chief. Trump’s conduct as a husband or status as a believer should not necessarily disqualify him from the presidency.
That said, this sentiment should be tempered with some degree of prudence. White and others who have expressed similar notions are effectively saying that current threats call for a different standard of leadership than might otherwise apply. Donald Trump may have been a terrible husband, she seems to concede. He may harbor few Christian values, certain evangelicals confess. But we may need a little amorality in our struggle against the threats at our gates.
That’s a slippery slope. It’s similar to the notion once forwarded by Rahm Emanuel:
You never let a serious crisis go to waste. And what I mean by that it’s an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before.
Citing a crisis as justification for anything should always provoke our suspicion. Our standards of civil leadership, whatever those happen to be, exist to protect our rights. If we lose liberty in pursuit of security, we will have won nothing. America may not need a great husband or devout pastor as its commander-in-chief. But we do need someone who bears some of the admirable qualities applicable to those roles — integrity, conviction, discernment, etc.
As it stands, there may be no major party candidate with those qualities.