What Does it Mean to be Moral in the Public Arena?

We’re at a time in our country when most of our elected officials apparently have forgotten their responsibilities. In truth, U.S. politicians in their capacity as politicians have one moral imperative: to promote, protect, and advance the interests of the American people they represent. Everything else is secondary. To do anything other than promote the interests of the American people—or worse, to promote behavior that is detrimental to the interests of Americans—is, in fact, immoral.

So what does it mean, then, to be a moral public official?

Mitt Romney, otherwise known as Senator Pablum, came out yet again and informed the world how terrible he thought Donald Trump’s behavior was in light of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report—you know, the political document that spells out the failed soft coup against a duly elected president.

Romney joined others in tut-tutting the president’s moral character, but he and everyone else apparently have forgotten the message voters sent to the swamp in 2016: we pretty much don’t care what you think. Voters are tired of candidates who promise them the world, but who, upon arrival in Washington D.C., are happy to hold hands with opponents across the aisle and increase spending, decrease freedom, and ignore the people who sent them to Washington in the first place.

Finally, in Donald Trump we have someone who promises to do the opposite. He’s made it his goal to fulfill as many campaign promises as possible, from conservative judges to tax cuts, border security, fixing broken trade deals, and standing up for America’s interests abroad.

Republicans since Ronald Reagan long have made big promises, whether it was repealing Obamacare, cutting the national debt, fixing our broken welfare system, and stopping the madness at our southern border. But the overwhelming majority of them abandon those values when it counts.

The late Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) railed against Obamacare and the consequences for our healthcare, raising millions of dollars for his reelection on the promise he would end it. But when the moment arrived, he voted to prop up the failing, costly program. President George W. Bush had countless opportunities for serious reform of our welfare system. Instead his domestic legacy is the expensive and unnecessary Medicare Part D. Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan ran as pragmatic conservatives ready to shrink the size of government, but when Ryan had the chance to work with President Trump, he failed to push through meaningful reforms. Now Romney continues his sniping at the president from his safe seat in his newfound home of Utah.

All of these men have railed against President Trump to varying degrees. Romney, who was once upon a time a moderate with progressive views before he became “severely conservative,” has one moral standard he lives by: opportunism.

Romney now intones that “Donald Trump has not risen to the mantle of the office” and that the president is dividing this nation instead of uniting it. Others out of the evangelical wing of the Republican Party bemoan Trump’s personal morality while Jonah Goldberg recently defied the world to come up with a definition of how Trump is good.

As someone who has both advocated and lived a personal life that is much different from Trump’s, let me spell it out: people are sick and tired of the nice guy who won’t fight for them, who drops his principles when it’s convenient, and who’s more concerned with his reception in the elite halls of power than in the town halls in his district.

The elites in D.C. and New York clearly would prefer a prim and proper globalist over an imperfect populist who puts his nation and its citizens first.

It is staggering to see that the people decrying Trump’s personal life are the very same ones who many times have witnessed and apologized and partaken in the great immorality of many of our political leaders: a refusal to prioritize the interests of the American people.

Funded by the American taxpayer, our leaders in both parties have involved us in bad trade deals, costing the American people jobs and income. They’ve involved us in foreign wars in which we have spent trillions of dollars and lost thousands of American lives.

They’ve promised us immigration reform, yet have done nothing. The people are sick of it.

And yet these people who have been apologists for such behavior, who have been a part of such behavior, now are lecturing us on how Trump is immoral? We’ve elected these people, hired them if you will, and most of them have sold out our interests and lied to the American people for decades and yet they presume to view themselves as paragons of virtue?

Why does it not occur to them that they in fact are guilty of deeply immoral behavior? They squander our money, drive our national debt to new heights, call the future prosperity of our children into question and every day seem to forget that their one and only moral responsibility and fiduciary responsibility is to the American people and only to the American people.

The first concern of any elected official in the United States should be for the freedom, safety, and welfare of the American people before all others, not the personal morality of their lives. While this should be so apparent as to be a self-evident truth, clearly Trump’s methods and style are too much for some peoples’ delicate sensibilities. We have a president who actually believes that his responsibility is to the American people and the American worker. He actually believes that we should have better trade deals and immigration reform. He actually believes in the things he says on the campaign trail, not just as convenient platitudes meant to sucker enough voters into voting for him. What a shocking and novel idea!

So instead of sanctimonious prigs who smile, lie, and then wave as they sell out the American people’s interests every day, I will take a bare knuckle brawler fighting on behalf of the American people. I would go so far as to say in regards to what could be defined as a public arena morality, Donald Trump is far more moral than any of those currently criticizing him.

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Photo Credit: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

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About Ned Ryun

Ned Ryun is a former presidential writer for George W. Bush and the founder and CEO of American Majority. You can find him on Twitter @nedryun.