We are over two years away from the next presidential election, but the chatter has already started. People are asking, “Who will run against President Obama?” At this point in the game, though, I’d rather ask, “What qualities should a potential next president have?”
To answer this question, let’s first set the stage. It’s 1998 and President Bill Clinton has been impeached by the U.S. House of Representatives for lying under oath about his adulterous relationship with Monica Lewinsky. Cheating on your wife and then being deceitful about it—both to one’s family and before a court of law—is a serious offense.
At least in my mind, Clinton disqualified himself from being capable of leading the country as president. Some of you are probably shaking your heads in disagreement, but hear me out: refusing to make the connection between private morality and public leadership is folly. Actions, whether good or bad, shape a person. Not only that, but what one does in the shadows will eventually be brought to light, sending the “private you” on a crash course with the “public you.” The Clinton sex scandal illustrated this concept very well.
Now, am I saying that Bill Clinton is beyond forgiveness? By no means! Humans do make mistakes, and thankfully, there’s a good chance Clinton has sought forgiveness from God, his family, and all others involved—I pray he has. A majority of the American people seem to have forgiven him as well. But consequences cannot be undone. Some things, no matter if you’re forgiven, take away your ability to be trusted with elected office or other high-level leadership positions.
I don’t know about all of you, but I want our next president to lead a personal life that can be held up as a godly example to follow. He should allow his personal Christian values to shape the presidency—to shape and inform his public leadership style. This is not to say that a secular individual is automatically disqualified from serving in public office. After all, it is our deeds that primarily define us. But I long for a day when we can point with pride to our elected officials and tell our children, “that person is a leader, and you need to follow his example of leadership.”
Let’s recommit to finding such a candidate, and someone who fights for the issues we care about will come with the package.