Jeanette Rusk Sefcik: This is a battle about our souls, not Trump’s

In this combination photo, president Donald Trump, left, speaks at a news conference on Aug. 11, 2020, in Washington and Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden speaks in Wilmington, Del. on Aug. 13, 2020. The conventions, which will be largely virtual because of the coronavirus, will be Aug. 17-20 for the Democrats and Aug. 24-27 for the Republicans. (AP Photo)

Many Democrats are speaking of this election as “a battle for the soul of our nation.” This is true, but what is the soul of our nation but a distillation of the individual souls of its citizens.

The question in this election is not who or what is Donald Trump. The question is who or what are we as we cast our ballots. What's in our soul? And which candidate best reflects and resonates with our soul values?

I argue that this election is different from any in the past. Basic good character is usually assumed in our final presidential nominees, and the fight is then about qualifications, experience, policies. This time, as many have said, “character” is on the ballot. And surely it “trumps” all other considerations.

Donald Trump is Donald Trump, and we know what he is by now. We also know what Joe Biden is. But who are we? It’s what we are that will determine the future of our nation. We are responsible because we choose our leaders. Our collective souls will be on display in the election results.

Now, I said we know Trump and Biden, but we can't truly or wholly know anyone's soul. We can only judge the soul quality by what a person says and does. But you have to go to the source. Look at and listen to Trump and Biden, not to the commentators or spinners.

One guy talks about light, hope, love. He has unlimited testimonials to the ways he has applied these principles in his private and public life. The other guy ridicules, blames, stokes fear and prejudice. Character witnesses are scarce.

Which attitude do you ally with? Which is likelier to bring us together so we can start working on the problems most of us recognize, but may have different ways of solving?

I hear many Republicans say that they don’t like the way Trump talks (and tweets), but expediency prevails, and they plan to vote for him because of some issue (or issues) that they feel strongly about. Well, the way he talks and tweets and acts is a revelation of his soul/character.

Trump has no real political ideology, so issue positions will change. Many hoped that his speech and behavior would change, but that hasn’t happened, and he remains totally “unpresidented.”

If you are one of those voters who is torn in this election because you have strong Republican identity and/or strong issue positions, but you don't see your own soul reflected in Trump, maybe you should listen to Mitt Romney.

Romney, a strong Republican and LDS stalwart, won’t vote for Trump because he doesn’t trust or respect him. Soul qualities are more important to Romney than his Republicanism or specific issues. That’s the way it should be.

“What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, but forfeits his soul,” is a relevant piece of Bible wisdom for our times.

We are facing many problems and reckonings in our nation, but first we must confront a soul reckoning. Are we an angry, victimized, self-centered people, or can we summon the honesty, humility and compassion that surely reside in our souls. When we restore the soul to our leadership, then we can get back to working on our national shortcomings with integrity and respect.

Jeanette Rusk Sefcik

Jeanette Rusk Sefcik, Glendale, is a retired newspaper reporter and editor, having worked at newspapers including the Tucson Citizen, Daily Spectrum in St. George, Southern Utah News in Kanab and Lake Powell Chronicle in Page, Ariz. She has a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Arizona.