A bad character—and here, again, I’m not talking about imposing some sort of prudish standard—should be a disqualifying attribute. But based on the fact that we elected Clinton and Trump (though neither garnered 50% of the vote) it clearly isn’t.
Americans get the presidents we deserve, but my hope is that—just as the post-Watergate era ushered in a more ethical breed of president—the post-Trump era might lead to voters finding a renewed interest in character.
It should be a non-negotiable issue that counts for more than policy preferences. As a center-right columnist, I have appreciated many of Donald Trump’s policies and judicial nominations. However, as I recently noted on Jamie Weinstein’s podcast, “If you are a bad leader in terms of character, rhetoric, and providing moral authority, then you just can’t be a good President.”