2020 election leads students to question the importance of good character

The 2020 election season has undoubtedly stirred great conflict between students and their peers, teachers, and families. From these conversations and debates, it has been questioned whether a candidate’s character matters when choosing between candidates to support. According to a CNN Exit Poll, 73% of voters believe a candidate’s position on issues is more important in the presidential vote, while 24% believe a candidate’s personal qualities are more important. 

Junior, Emma Harris, deems that having good character is important because the president should serve as a good example for the country and should have upstanding morals to lead the country effectively. Harris believes that having honesty and good character gives the country more confidence that the candidate will carry out what they promise. Specifically, according to Harris, it is important for a candidate to have eloquent speaking, good people skills, and decent morals. Based on these beliefs, Harris concludes that Joe Biden is the most competent choice. 

“I would say Joe Biden has better morals and character,” Harris said, “and I feel like he is a better example of America than the opposing candidate.”

In contrast, senior, Anna Claire Crites, chooses candidates to support in accordance with her Christian beliefs. 

“I think that character drives their policies,” Crites said, “I favor Trump because he has the closest view to my Christian values.”

Crites looks more into policy when deciding between candidates. Her strong Christian roots lead her to value things similar to President Donald Trump. 

“I also favor Trump because he is pro-life, pro-freedom, pro-police, pro-military, and is what’s best for this country,” Crites said. 

Similarly, junior, John David English, credits Donald Trump as the best choice, based on policy rather than character.

“I think they’re both really important,” English said, “but when it comes to having to choose one over the other. I think that policy would probably be more important because I think the laws of the United States need to be upheld and constitutional rights need to be upheld as well.”

English, like Crites, advocates for policies in agreement with his religion. 

“I’m a pretty religious person,” English said, “I’m a Christian, and I believe that most morals are founded on Christianity. My Christian morals are what leads me to usually support a candidate.” 

According to English, his Christain beliefs lead him to conclude that Trump promises to lead the country in a direction more favorable to him. 

“Out of the two main candidates in the running I think that Trump is definitely more favorable for my views,” English said, “Just because he shares my beliefs, on most things.” 

Although he respects Trump as a president, he does not necessarily feel he is a good person. 

“Some people will tell me Trump’s not a good person. And I’ll agree with them. Actually, I’ll say, I know he’s not a good person, but I think that he’s a good president,” English said, “and I think he upholds our rights and carries out good actions, through his presidency.” 

Senior, Lauren Burgin, believes that both policy and character are important, but in the end, she believes policy trumps character. 

“A candidate’s politics and what they view politically is definitely more important,” Burgin said, “I definitely look into social policies and stuff that directly policies that will directly affect me, but if the candidate doesn’t respect the people whom they represent, I can’t vote for them. If they don’t even try to appeal to a certain demographic, why would they expect their support?” 

According to Burgin, it is very important for a candidate to appeal to their entire audience, therefore, Biden is the most favorable candidate right now. 

“I think the president should have a one term limit,” Burgin said, “They should not be allowed to have two terms. That’s just crazy. And I definitely don’t think Trump should have two terms, just because what he’s been doing with women’s rights has not been it, Joe Biden definitely has a more favorable view on those, and those policies and views affect me personally. I would really like to see them, you know, I would really like to have rights.”

Many students believe that character and policy both have major importance when deciding between candidates. Junior, Gerson Melton, sees significance in both qualities, but believes character is more important between the two. 

“They need to have a need to have good morals, good ethics, and they need to be portraying our nation in a way that other people are going to model themselves after.” Melton said, “It’s one thing to be a horrible guy, and have good policy, but it’s even better to be somebody that people can look up to as a leader, and people can follow after.”

According to Melton, a candidate’s background is important to be aware of because they might have said something in the past that contradicts their words now. Melton also sees value in the words a candidate says. 

“Another big thing that really pertains to our candidates is their words,” Melton said, “because while they’re just words, they’re impactful, because when you say things like, ‘illegal immigrants are rapists’, I mean, that just creates a stigma that’s completely wrong.” 

Based on the issues Melton discussed, he believes Biden is the best candidate between the two. However, Melton would rather vote for Trump because he would like to see a better candidate in the next election, sooner than see Biden run for a second term. 

“You don’t know if they’re gonna switch him out,” Melton said, “if he’s going to be be running for re-election, I’d much rather see a better democrat than him that’s capable of being in office.”