The end of the "character issue"

There are several explanations for this retreat from character as an issue. For many Christian conservatives, political identity now not only trumps religious identity, it also takes precedence over virtue — at least when it comes to selecting political leaders.

There also seems to be a feeling among many conservatives I talk to that focusing on character issues is a luxury they can’t afford at a time when the country is in such dire straits.

Politics play a role, of course. Voters from one party typically apply a much higher standard when it comes to the conduct of the other party’s candidates. I won’t be surprised when conservative Christians are among those who assail Hillary Clinton — or “crooked Hillary,” as Trump likes to call her — for her character flaws, while downplaying Trump’s.

This retreat from character is a loss for the country.