We are embarking on the season of character assassination. In the remaining weeks of the campaign, we will see the two candidates try to impugn each other’s character. They understand that voters rely on perceptions of character when marking their ballots. As they go about trying to manipulate our perceptions, we should keep a few things in mind.
First, they will try to whip up our emotions in order to muffle the voice of reason that speaks within each of us. But reason is exactly what we need as we go about assessing someone’s character.
Second, none of us wish to be defined by our worst moments, but instead understand that character is measured on balance. It is a trend, not a particular event. None of us possess our character strengths to perfection. While we may be of upstanding character, we all have our moments when our judgment faltered. The fact that each of has lied in the course of our lives does not make us all liars. The campaigns, however, will dig into each other’s histories and spotlight negative incidents that push emotional buttons. If we as a populace don’t allow ourselves to fall for these manipulative tactics, we may, over time, find that politicians become less manipulative.