Some women have something called “The List,” a comprehensive catalog of qualities they must have in their future husband. Handsome? Check. Funny? Check. Honest? Check. Treats his mother like gold? Check. Man of faith? Check. Some people may find a list like this a little too picky and pretentious, but when picking a mate for life, women can’t be too careful. This is the man who will hopefully father their children, provide for their family, and be the good husband she deserves.
While choosing a husband takes discernment, much thought and even gut instinct, the same can be said for choosing the president of the United States. Women are picky; no news there. But they need to be picky for the same reasons they need to be choosy about a husband.
Although not the father of her children, the president has a direct impact on their future. While not her family’s provider, his economic policies directly impact her family’s budget. While not the teacher of her children in school, his education policies will affect her kids in the classroom. And while not at home every night protecting her family, his military policies will impact the safety of the nation.
It’s an awesome duty to occupy the job of the president of the United States, one that comes with a multitude of responsibilities to protect and defend its citizens and families, helping to create jobs and stable economic conditions.
Women know that and want the best for our nation and their own children and families. But as the men in our lives will testify, every so often we can’t make up our minds. At times, the candidates for whom women vote can leave men dumbfounded. We like them handsome and tough, but not always — remember Jimmy Carter? We like them to be strong decisive leaders, but not always (Carter again). We like them competent but. ... Well, you get the idea.
From the stance of a conservative woman, however, there is a list of qualities that must be present in the next president.
1. Honesty and integrity are key. We don’t want a man — or woman — who isn’t honest or who will be questioned at every turn as to whether or not he is telling the truth. So we have to be able to trust that the next president is going to tell the truth, be honest and forthright, and never give the American people a reason to doubt their word. There has got to be an inner moral compass.
2. Women want fidelity in the next president. He needs to be faithful to the Constitution and the American people. We don’t need someone who bashes this great nation to other countries or goes on “apology tours.”
3. Our next president also has to have some common sense. It may seem like an obvious attribute, but the way in which the president conducts his personal life and makes policy decisions gives important insight into whether or not he has good judgment and common sense. What, or Who, guides his decisions? Hopefully it’s not poll numbers but rather a well-formed moral compass.
4. A good team. In a marriage, husbands and wives have different strengths and weaknesses and rely on each other as a counterbalance for the good of the family. Our next president must surround himself with a good team of experienced and smart people who will help make key decisions and give sound advice. Every single person in the president’s inner circle reflects on his own judgment.
5. Modesty and humilty. The president should also be modest and humble, understanding that he is employed by the American people and not special interest groups or extreme agendas. The president should be able to share credit when it is due and not become a black hole of false accolades and ideological legislation.
6. Courage. Finally, women want a president to be courageous and able to make tough decisions, facing down evil and those who want to do harm to our nation. Conservative women want someone who will protect their families and keep them safe so they won’t have to worry about their kids getting on an airplane or taking the train or bus.
Women will be scrutinizing the presidential candidates closely as the 2012 elections approach. Some Republican candidates who have announced their intentions to run for the presidency meet some of these criteria that we would consider essential in a candidate; others, not so much.
In considering these qualities, I hope American women will educate themselves not just on what the candidates say but also what they have done. The future of our great nation, as well as our families, is at stake.
Penny Nance is CEO of Concerned Women for America.
Penny Young Nance is president and CEO of Concerned Women for America, the nation’s largest women’s public policy organization. She is the author of the forthcoming book "Feisty and Feminine: A Rallying Cry for Conservative Women" (Zondervan 2016).