Many undecided voters watch the debates to get a sense of the “person” behind the manufactured candidate image. A good (and very old) model for leader character can be derived from the writings of Aristotle. This focuses on a leader’s core, or cardinal, virtues. So, here is what we should look for in order to determine a presidential candidate’s character:
Prudence. Prudence is often associated with wisdom. It involves the candidate’s ability to see all sides of an issue, and to weigh the pros and cons of each before making a decision. The prudent person does not make rash decisions, or hold onto an opinion when faced with disconfirming information.
What suggests lack of prudence?
Does the candidate hold to his opinion regardless of the evidence? (“I don’t care about statistics/facts/evidence…this is what I believe!”)
Does the candidate seem unable to see things from the other candidate’s perspective? (“You’re just completely wrong!” “You don’t have a leg to stand on!”)
Temperance. Is ability to control emotions and is related to humility. A temperate leader controls impulses and “appetites” (think of the many leaders who have gotten themselves in trouble due to lack of temperance). Temperate leaders are willing to admit making mistakes and strive to learn from them.