By: Sarah Lofdahl
My faith is very important to me. It’s my top priority and therefore, important to me when trying to decide who I would like to be the next president. I am a Christian and I think it’s at the upmost importance for our next president to be too. Your morals change and the way you handle situations are altered when you decide to make Jesus the center of your life and rely on him through every endeavor. The next president will have a lot on his hands. And being president is not easy. It’s a hard job and one that being faithful is important. God provides the characteristics of being a leader to many of those around us. And it’s amazing to see those characteristics being used to further the kingdom of God and this great country.
When looking for the next president, I want it to be someone who is bold in their faith, who turns to God before making a decision, and who will use their power to further the greatness of this country. Through my 10 days in Iowa, I tried to go into every presidential event with openness. This is a whole new battleground I have never experienced before, and it’s very different when you get to see the candidates first hand and be able shake their hand. It changes your perspective on the process, and I have a new respect for candidates and for the Iowa Caucus. Each candidate appealed to me in different ways. Some were good and some were not too great.
Governor Chris Christie:
Chris Christie was my first candidate to see in Iowa. Going into the event, I honestly thought I was not going to like him because he can sometimes be very aggressive. But in this setting, his personality was perfect. He had my attention the entire time, and I loved the way the event was structured. He was open and honest, and good at getting the crowd involved. He made sure to shake every hand, answer as many questions as he could, and even take pictures with the crowd. Christie was raised as a devout Catholic. He claims his faith is very important to him, but his faith does not take a roll in his actions and policies as a politician. Although Catholicism states that homosexuality is a sin, Christie believes that “if someone is born that way it’s very difficult to say then that that’s a sin.” This is where he goes rogue on his religion. For me, what the Bible says is true, and that’s what I will go by for the rest of my life.
Senator Bernie Sanders:
Bernie Sanders on the other hand, was something completely different. I enjoyed getting to hear him speak, but his stance on certain issues did not appeal to me at all. He is a self-proclaimed socialist and I don’t think that’s what this country needs to heal. If elected, Sanders would be our first Jewish president. But when asked if he believed in God in an interview on Jimmy Kimmel, he dodged the question. Sanders has even been described by some as agnostic. For these reasons, Sanders does not appeal to me. If you’re religious, let the world know. And if you’re not, you don’t need to be afraid to tell people who you really are.
Governor Martin O’Malley:
I have a lot of respect for Martin O’Malley. He may not be doing well in the polls, but he’s not giving up and although he may not win this time around, I think he will make it big in the future. He’s personable and friendly and a more moderate democrat. O’Malley is a Roman Catholic and grew up going to Catholic private school. He is a very devout Catholic, but strays from his religion in the issues of abortion rights, embryonic stem cell, and legalizing same sex marriage. He’s a new-age candidate and acts like a normal person, and that very much appeals to me. I don’t want to elect someone who I can’t have a conversation with, and I know I could have a conversation if I set down with O’Malley. But like with Christie, it’s hard for me to support a candidate who strays from his religion in so many areas when it comes to politics.
Governor Mike Huckabee:
Huckabee has been one of my favorite candidates to meet. I’ve always enjoyed Huckabee and commend his efforts to never give up on trying to be president. This is his third time around and I can’t imagine the hardships he’s already been through trying to gain the Republican nomination. He’s the son of a Baptist preacher, and his faith is very important to him. He doesn’t stray away from what the Bible teaches and in this world, that’s very difficult. His rhetoric was very appealing and I was engaged the entire time. He was honest with the people. One woman in the room asked about the Paris Accords because she liked what it stood for. Huckabee answered her question stating that he was not for the Paris Accords and told her why. He did not change his views to meet the standard of one person and I really liked that. It shows a lot about his character as a candidate who’s currently not doing very well.
Governor John Kasich:
While Kasich’s faith was made evident at his campaign event held at Inspired Grounds Cafe, his impression on me was not good. His tone of voice was demeaning and degrading, and I hated how he was constantly pointing college students out. Within the first five minutes of the event, he was telling us not to do drugs because we told him we were college students who went to LSU. During Q and A, a lady at the event made a metaphor comparing stewarding the land by stewarding energy. In his response he reiterated his faith and how he believes stewarding the land is very important, but there’s a difference between stewarding it and obsessing over it, and we should not obsess over it. In my opinion, this was the only response that caught my attention. His other responses resulted in yelling and talking down on many people and issues. All in all, not my candidate.
Senator Ted Cruz:
Although, I did go into this trip with an open mind, Ted Cruz was a top contender for me. He’s a strong Christian man who is very serious in staying true to Jesus and his faith. He puts God first and that can be hard when you’re in a profession like politics. I felt like I was in a church service at the Cruz event which for me, felt comfortable. I loved how we prayed before it started, and I loved how God was mentioned throughout the entire event. Cruz is a faithful man who seems to turn to Jesus before making his decisions, and people are taking note of that. He will get the Evangelical vote in Iowa, I have no doubt about that. He’s getting most of the Evangelical endorsements which is only increasing his numbers and his cause. He’s fighting hard and putting on one of the best campaigns in Iowa this election year. When I met Cruz, I decided to tell him I was a Southern Baptist just like him and I appreciated the boldness he had in letting his faith be known and how inspiring he is to me. Cruz then responded telling me that “there is only truth through Jesus.” And all I can say is Amen to that.
Madam Secretary Hillary Clinton:
Hillary Clinton was someone I was really looking forward to see. She is a powerful image for many women and her fans are willing to fight till the end. At her event, the crowd was on fire the entire time. They clapped and yelled at approval of almost every word that came out of her mouth. Nothing about her faith was ever mentioned. And I have a hard time supporting a candidate who supports things that go against Scripture. As appealing as she may be to hear in person, a lot of what she said was contradicting to me. Again and again she would say that we needed to be a united country and to stop playing the blame game, but throughout her speech, she never stopped blaming the Republicans for the many problems our country is currently facing. Hillary might be the candidate for others, but she is not the candidate for me.
Senator Marco Rubio:
Going into this trip, Marco Rubio was at the top of my list. Something about him really appealed to me, and I liked his attitude toward this country. Getting to hear him speak was great. His tone was strong, but not too aggressive. His ideas seemed plausible, and his morals stood out in the way he suggested the answers to problems. Rubio is a Catholic, and you can tell by the way he stands on issues, that this is important to him. He even pointed out a saint necklace a classmate of mine was wearing. How cool is that? Even amidst all the chaos, he noticed the tiny necklace. Events can be crazy, and you take notice of the candidates who can spot the voice in the crowd or even the necklace someone might be wearing. It shows that Rubio is focused, but he’s not overwhelmed. He’s handling the campaigning with grace, and I love it.
Everyone everywhere has been talking about the infamous Donald Trump. His class act was so intriguing, yet so appalling all at the same time. His rhetoric was nothing, but a hateful tone, and you can tell just how selfish he is. All he did was talk about his poll numbers, and tear down all the other candidates. I know that is part of the game, but when it becomes your entire speech, it shows you have nothing else to offer. I understand that not everyone can win, and sometimes the way to get those out of the game is to single them out, but there comes a time when you’ve just gone too far. And Donald Trump has gone too far. He did not appeal to me at all. And after hearing him speak, I can reaffirm that.
Being an Evangelical is hard. It’s hard to express your feelings about other candidates because some people just don’t understand where you’re coming from. But this experience has been great for me, and it has really opened my eyes to this new world I have never been a part of. I have a newfound love for politics and I can’t wait to see where this country is headed over the next few months as we decide who will be our next President of the United States. Overall, I would say I am rooting for Senator Ted Cruz, Senator Marco Rubio, and Governor Mike Huckabee. Their values are important to them, and that is important to me.
*Although I was in Iowa, I was not able to see Dr. Ben Carson or Senator Rand Paul like others in my group. Therefore, I did not mention them in my essay.