Pol­icy trumps char­ac­ter for Trump back­ers

The Day - - OPINION - By DAVID W. ALMASI David W. Almasi is the vice pres­i­dent of the Na­tional Cen­ter for Pub­lic Pol­icy Re­search, a free-mar­ket think tank in Wash­ing­ton. He wrote this for In­sid­eSources.com.

Peo­ple say they value in­tegrity in their elected of­fi­cials. Vot­ing trends, how­ever, in­di­cate in­creas­ing in­ter­est in ef­fec­tive­ness. That’s prob­a­bly why “val­ues vot­ers” like Fam­ily Re­search Coun­cil Pres­i­dent Tony Perkins are will­ing to give Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump a “mul­li­gan” on his per­sonal foibles.

Con­sider how Alabama vot­ers chose Doug Jones over the very flawed and scan­dal-plagued Roy Moore in last year’s spe­cial Sen­ate elec­tion by less than 2 per­cent. De­spite al­le­ga­tions of sex­ual mis­con­duct in­volv­ing teenage girls dur­ing the height of the #metoo move­ment, Moore al­most won be­cause he was the con­ser­va­tive can­di­date in a tra­di­tion­ally con­ser­va­tive and re­li­gious state.

A poll by JMC An­a­lyt­ics, con­ducted just af­ter the first al­le­ga­tions against Moore came out, gave him 71 per­cent sup­port among Alabama’s evan­gel­i­cal vot­ers. Val­ues vot­ers un­doubt­edly held their noses as they voted for Moore over Jones.

Evan­gel­i­cal Chris­tians may de­sire can­di­dates with moral char­ac­ter, but they ul­ti­mately want some­one who will fight for them. A 2015 poll by the Barna Group, a Chris­tian-ori­ented re­search or­ga­ni­za­tion, found evan­gel­i­cals placed pol­icy po­si­tions over char­ac­ter by a mar­gin of 58 per­cent to 46 per­cent. The econ­omy was as im­por­tant to them as abor­tion.

A 2016 Barna poll found 87 per­cent of evan­gel­i­cals “frus­trated” with the gov­ern­ment. A 2015 poll by LifeWay Re­search found 82 per­cent of evan­gel­i­cals feared in­creas­ing anti-Chris­tian in­tol­er­ance.

Pres­i­dent Trump may not em­body val­ues they cher­ish in them­selves, but he has re­peat­edly vowed to pro­tect their re­li­gious lib­erty and pro­claimed his ad­min­is­tra­tion “will al­ways stand up for the right of all Amer­i­cans to pray to God and to fol­low his teach­ings.”

In our in­creas­ingly po­lar­ized po­lit­i­cal en­vi­ron­ment, char­ac­ter is be­com­ing a want in­stead of a need.

My wife and I dif­fer on fun­da­men­tal cri­te­ria for se­lect­ing a pres­i­den­tial can­di­date. It per­son­i­fies the di­vide be­tween per­son­al­ity and process. She wants some­one bet­ter than she sees her­self. Al­ter­na­tively, I’ve al­ways wanted a pres­i­dent to hire peo­ple I’ve worked with dur­ing my Wash­ing­ton ten­ure. It’s not my scheme to get on the White House Christ­mas card list, but an as­sur­ance that peo­ple I trust are set­ting pol­icy.

Nei­ther of us sup­ported Trump in the pri­maries, but we did in the gen­eral elec­tion. We’ve been happy with his ad­min­is­tra­tion. Pres­i­dent Trump met my stan­dard, with many of my col­leagues be­com­ing high-rank­ing mem­bers of his team (while re­main­ing ab­sent from the Christ­mas card list). My wife is happy with her raise and bonus at work, among other things.

It’s not just me. The Her­itage Foun­da­tion is happy the pres­i­dent em­braced 64 per­cent of its pol­icy pri­or­i­ties dur­ing his first year in of­fice — a feat out­pac­ing the Rea­gan ad­min­is­tra­tion.

Her­itage, my wife and I, and evan­gel­i­cal vot­ers will weather Stormy Daniels to ben­e­fit from tax re­form, dereg­u­la­tion and more ef­fec­tive im­mi­gra­tion pol­icy.

Char­ac­ter is nice, but get­ting things done — now, more than ever — is key.

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