According to a recent poll, 73% of voters do not believe President Trump’s alleged affair with pornographic actress Stormy Daniels is an important news story. I agree. And that saddens me. We once had the luxury of concerning ourselves with the personal character of candidates for elected office. Unfortunately, those days are gone.
When government was small and its powers constitutionally limited, it’s capacity to influence the individual lives of its citizens was marginal compared to today. Because the government could only do so much, it made sense to seek people of high character for public office. It’s nice to be proud of elected officials. It’s good when our children can look up to them as role models.
With the systematic and incremental deconstruction of the Constitution’s limits on government power came bigger government. That government now inserts itself into our everyday lives to a degree never imagined at our country’s founding. The halls of government have been thrown wide open to influence peddling, special interests, patronage, protectionism, and innumerable coercions and restraints over the citizenry.
Where the Constitution provided limited government with enumerated powers coupled with textual and structural protections of individual liberty, the deconstruction of the Constitution has resulted in comparatively limitless government and a subjugation of the citizenry to the will of the majority as expressed through our elected representatives. Where we once enjoyed the constitutional republic the founding generation gave us, we now suffer the representative majoritarianism which has resulted from the incremental diminishment of the Constitution’s limits on government power as well as those structural and textual protections of liberty.
Because representative majoritarianism has resulted in a government that has an expansive capacity to exert influence over our lives and seems determined to do so with reckless abandon, it is no longer prudent to place much importance on the personal character of elected officials. Given a choice between a loud mouthed lout with a long and open history of philandering who is a stalwart constitutionalist and a highly trustworthy, intelligent, competent, family oriented, church goer who is seeking office in order to mold society through his or her legislative efforts, I’ll take the lout every time.
This isn’t to suggest that Trump is a stalwart constitutionalist by any means. But the principle applies – because of the myriad permutations of what might be imposed by the government under a system of representative majoritarianism implemented as a result of the hollowing out of our Constitution, a voter’s concern over a candidate’s character is dwarfed by the concern over what a candidate will do once in office to affect the voter’s life. Accordingly, our perception of a candidate’s character is now only important to the extent that perception relates to our evaluation of how he or she will govern. Promiscuity and infidelity have little if any bearing on the decisions an elected official will make. As a result, it’s natural that the public would not find instances of promiscuity or infidelity to be particularly important.
The fact that we can no longer afford the luxury of concerning ourselves with a candidate’s character is just another in a long line of sad outcomes which necessarily result when a society opts for statism and collectivism over liberty and individualism.