Character vs. Charisma

Comparing the history of recent presidents and what voters think of their character.

Roger Helle · Mar. 20, 2020

Do you remember the 1992 election? George H.W. Bush was running for reelection and faced a political opponent not very well known nationally and under a cloud of scandal for various sexual relationships outside of his marriage.

At this point, in my opinion, politics took an ominous turn for the worse. Let’s review the scenario. Bush had defeated Saddam Hussein and kicked him out of Kuwait. His approval numbers were off the chart. But Bush made a critical error in his campaign strategy.

Bush was one of “The Greatest Generation.” Having grown up during the Great Depression, he knew the value of hard work, honesty, integrity, character, generosity, and patriotism. His opponent, Bill Clinton, on the other hand, was a Baby Boomer who avoided the draft and protested against the war in Vietnam.

President Bush assumed Americans still valued character and integrity in their elected officials when it came to the highest office in the land. But the culture had changed. Voters chose personality and charisma over character and integrity. This has impacted our nation’s politics ever since. What do younger voters remember about President Barack Obama? “He was cool!”

I’ve had people tell me that I didn’t like Clinton because he didn’t go to Vietnam. That dog don’t hunt! I have plenty of friends who did not go to Vietnam. Some went to Canada, others obtained college deferments. I have some friends who went to Canada to avoid the draft. I even had a friend who burned his draft card and went to jail to avoid going to Vietnam. God has a sense of humor as he came to work for me at Teen Challenge.

As a Christian, I don’t have the option to hate someone, even someone like Bill Clinton or John Kerry (who served in Vietnam if you didn’t know, and who apparently wrote up his own citations for decorations). I’m actually a little envious of Kerry, who received three Purple Heart medals with no scars to show for them. My three Purple Hearts left plenty of scars, making a modeling career out of the question (I’m joking here).

My problem with Clinton had nothing to do with his political affiliation, his lack of military service, or anything else. My problem is he was, and remains to this day, a man lacking in integrity and character. While this is nothing new in the political realm, I believe it has gone to a whole new level since then.

This is not pointing a finger at just one political party. This issue plagues politics, business, our military, and even religion. We take a politician’s word at our own peril. Yet we voters keep reelecting the same people over and over again and wondering why nothing changes! What’s the definition of insanity? “Doing the same thing over and over, each time expecting a different result.”

Business and military leaders, politicians and any leader who lacks character and integrity hinders our nation from the destiny God has intended for us. This problem will NEVER be solved at the ballot box. It will change when a spiritual transformation sweeps our nation. I hope I have given you a reason to be praying for America.

Something to pray about?

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