I guess most of us are hypocrites, of a sort, or at least partisan bias can overtake what should be more durable values than whichever party happens to control which office. As evidence, I offer this fresh poll result, from the esteemed Pew Research Center, compared to past samplings.
In 1994, when Bill Clinton was president but his inappropriate sexual relationship with White House intern Monica Lewinsky hadn’t yet surfaced, Pew asked what more important in choosing a president, someone who held views you agreed with, or someone who set a good moral example for the country?
Democrats, by 54-37, said a good moral example was more important. In 1999, with Clinton’s moral example pretty much destroyed, Democrats said, by 57-36, it was more important to have a president with whose views they agreed. Funny how that works.
In that same 1999 poll, with the morally compromised Clinton in the White House, Republicans said by 75-17, that it was more important to have a president who set a good moral example, irrespective of his policy views and priorities.
You see where this is going, but I’ll just give you the numbers.
When Pew asked the question this year, Republicans had fled the “good moral example” camp and now said, by an impressive 75-19 percent, that it was more important to have a president who had good policy views rather than good morals.
Democrats, of course, also flipped from their Clintonian belief that policies were more important than morals. In 2019, with Trump setting a poor moral example, they said by 60-30 that the more important consideration was the moral example set by the president.
For what it’s worth, and not unexpectedly, political independents have been less likely to shift depending on which party held the White House, and in all three polls, a majority said that it was more important to have a president who set a good moral example. The numbers didn’t stay the same, but the majority in each case put morals first, which could be a problem for Mr. Trump in 2020, but who knows?