In the News – Decency Becomes Factor in Presidential Race
Salt Lake City—Decency has become a hot topic in the 2016 presidential race—especially in conversations about Republican businessman Donald Trump. Fellow candidate Marco Rubio called Trump “the most vulgar person to ever aspire to the presidency.”
Mitt Romney, the 2012 GOP nominee, called Trump a phony and a fraud, pointing to his “bullying, the greed, the showing off, the misogyny, the absurd third-grade theatrics.” Romney also criticized Trump’s foreign-policy ideas, failed business ventures, and dishonesty, saying, “He’s not of the temperament of the kind of stable, thoughtful person we need as leader.”
In response, Trump said Romney “doesn’t know how to win” and that only Trump can beat Hillary Clinton in the November election.
Trump doesn’t pass the “decency test,” according to pastor and author Max Lucado. “Decency matters to Americans,” Lucado writes, “so why isn’t decency doing better in the presidential race?” Although Lucado doesn’t know Trump, he says he’s been “chagrined at his antics,” which “wouldn’t be acceptable even for a middle school student body election.”
On the campaign trail, Trump repeatedly calls people “stupid” and “loser.” At rallies, he asks people, “Are you from Mexico?” and has them thrown out. Yet so far, Trump’s antics haven’t hurt his poll numbers.
One reason for Trump’s frontrunner status, analysts says, is that he’s tapping into Americans’ anger. But Romney says Trump directs that anger “for less than noble purposes.” And Lucado warns that “anger-fueled reactions have caused trouble ever since Cain was angry at Abel.”
Former Romney adviser Stuart Stevens says supporting or not supporting Trump is a “moral choice.” Republicans can always regain a lost political office, Stevens notes, “but there is no mechanism to regain one’s dignity and sense of decency once squandered.”
Sources: cnn.com, abcnews.go.com, washingtonpost.com
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Discussion Starters for Student Small Groups
How do you feel about the current state of the presidential campaign? Has your interest increased or decreased due to recent character attacks?
What’s your reaction to Romney’s critique of Trump? Is the name-calling by Romney just as bad as the name-calling Trump has done? Why or why not? Would Romney’s words have more impact if he’d actually won the presidency in 2012? Explain.
What is it about Trump that appeals to Americans’ anger? Will anger solve any of the country’s problems? How might anger affect America’s relationships with other countries?
How big of a role should someone’s temperament and personality play in whether he or she is elected president? If a person is vulgar and abrasive, how might that affect how he or she handles presidential duties? Would you rather have a leader who’s decent and moral but doesn’t know much about policy or a leader who’s immoral but a policy whiz? Explain.
In a society that has taken a strong stand against bullying, why do you think people often condone that type of behavior from politicians? When it comes to running for public office, are soft-spoken, humble people at a disadvantage? Explain.
Do you consider voting to be a moral choice? Why or why not? Are you willing to compromise any of your morals or beliefs when choosing a leader—at any level?
Do you agree that decency matters to Americans? Why or why not? To what evidence would you point to back up your answer? What types of indecency bother you the most? What types of indecency tempt you the most?
As a follower of Jesus, do you feel pressure to live a consistently moral life? Explain. Because it’s impossible to keep all of Jesus’ laws, have you ever wanted to stop trying? If so, describe the thought process that involved.
What does it mean that love is the fulfillment of the law? In what ways do you express love to people who might be difficult to love—or even like?
Scripture links: Romans 13:8-10; 1 Corinthians 14:40; 2 Corinthians 12:20-21; 2 Timothy 2:14-16; Titus 3:9-11; and 1 Peter 1:13-16.