There’s a certain freedom to this perspective. It allows us to forgo discussion about the nature of the people we support — so long as they’re not lying about how they vote, we can trust them in office. The founders, however, would have rejected this perspective. The Federalist Papers are replete with explanations of just why a good government would require good men. The Founders greatly feared the constraints of a parchment barrier against characterless men; they didn’t trust human nature enough to believe that child molesters or puppy torturers would be bound by simple conformity with the public will.

And the Founders were right. History has shown that bad men in positions of power rarely get better; they often get worse. They tend to abuse power. They tend to exercise their judgment — or lack thereof — even when they pledge to do otherwise. That means that we must measure our candidates for character as well as position. “May none but honest and wise men ever rule under this roof,” President John Adams prayed regarding the White House. He didn’t pray that they agree with him on tariffs.