The 1995 film The American President is one of my favorite movies. It’s quite versatile because it can function as a political drama as well as a romantic date movie as well. But it also carries a message about being the president which I think has been widely overlooked in this election.
In the film, Michael Douglas plays the President of the United States, Andrew Shepherd; and Richard Dreyfus plays his political rival, Bob Rumson. And during a press conference, President Shepherd makes a very profound statement:
“Senator Rumson has suggested that being President of this country was, to a certain extent, about character. And although I’ve not been willing to engage in his attacks on me, I have been here three years and three days, and I can tell you without hesitation: Being President of this country is entirely about character.”
Here it is, in the first 30 seconds of this clip…
Being President is entirely about character. I cannot fathom how anyone would disagree with this statement.
We all looked upon this presidential election through the fog and haze of our own contexts, preferences, morals, and preconceptions; my family and I were no different. However, one thing which gave me a sense of worth and appreciation during this often-toxic process was my family’s desire to seek my opinion on the presidential candidate for whom they should vote. And for me, even though I cannot vote, the choice was simple; for me, the choice – through my personal lens – was about character.
So here’s how I saw the “character” of the two candidates, through my own personal lens of context: Donald Trump is a man who publicly and brazenly cheats on his wife; Hillary Clinton is a woman who publicly and courageously forgave her cheating husband.
Hillary Clinton stared into the face of betrayal, and she found the strength to remain in her marriage when everyone said she should leave – and so did my wife.
That . . . is character.
You can like or hate Donald Trump for whatever reason; you can like or hate Hillary Clinton for whatever reason. But when it comes down to genuine character, it’s a choice between someone who flaunts betrayal, and someone who forgives betrayal.
And if being president is “entirely about character,” then perhaps, for the next four years, we really do have something to worry about…