Is the President a Bad Role Model for Children?

President Donald Trump speaks at a rally at Rimrock Auto Arena in Billings, Mont., Thursday, Sept. 6, 2018.

By Dennis Prager Published on September 11, 2018

“Most voters say President Donald Trump is not a good role model for children, according to a new Quinnipiac University poll.

“While 90 percent of voters say the president should be a good role model for kids, only 29 percent say he is while 67 percent say he is not.” — U.S. News, Jan. 26, 2018.

As someone who has devoted his life to writing and speaking about moral issues and the importance of character, I am regularly criticized for supporting President Trump. Democrats and Republican opponents of the president consider conservatives who support the president to be, at best, inconsistent with conservative values such as tempered speech, commitment to truth, support for European allies and free trade. And those of us who are religious conservatives and support the president are deemed hypocrites for supporting a man who has presumably committed adultery on more than a few occasions and said gross things about women in a private conversation.

Perhaps the most common objection to supporting the president is this: “He is a terrible role model for children.”

So, let me address this objection.

A Moral Obligation for All Men

As a father and grandfather, I would like every adult man (and woman — but I’ll confine my comments to men) to be a model for younger men. I consider it to be a moral obligation of every man to aspire to be a model for younger men. Perhaps the most meaningful compliment I receive is when a man calls my radio show or writes an email and tells me that he sees me as a “father figure.” I always respond how meaningful that statement is to me and always add that this is precisely what every man should aspire to be.

My suspicion is that this was much more common an aspiration among men generations ago. It is one of the reasons adult men and women seek to be called by their first names rather than “Mr.” (or, in the case of women, “Miss” or “Mrs.”) Many members of the baby-boom generation have not wanted to grow up: They dress, talk and act like teenagers, and many delay engaging in one of the most important statements of maturity — getting married — as long as possible. More men than ever never get married. In short, they want to see themselves as peers of young people, not father figures.

So then, if I emphatically support the idea that adult men should seek to be models for younger men, how could I support a president who apparently isn’t?

The Role of President Trump

The answer should be so obvious I am disappointed that all conservatives do not readily understand it. The role of the president of the United States is first and foremost to be a good president. If he (or she) is a personal role model, that is a lovely bonus — but it is only a bonus. When I was young, I never regarded the president of the United States as a personal role model. That task fell on my father, my grandfather, my older brother, my uncles, my parents’ friends, my teachers, my rabbis and other older males.

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President Jimmy Carter was known to be a faithful and devoted husband, and was not known for making false statements (only libelous ones after leaving office — like calling Israel an “apartheid” state). So what? Do conservative never-Trumpers think Jimmy Carter’s personal integrity mattered more, or his presidential decisions?

And, by the way, I’ll take Donald Trump’s character over that of Hillary Clinton. I believe she sold her country’s interests for personal gain. That she never committed adultery probably mattered to her husband and daughter, but not to me in determining who should be president of the United States.

What a president does as president is immeasurably more important than his personal sins. What he does personally affects his family. What he does as president affects the lives of 328 million Americans and, for that matter, the whole world.

Trump’s Achievements

Donald Trump is responsible for the lowest unemployment in generations, for appointing two conservative Supreme Court justices, for boosting defense spending, for confronting the illegal-immigrant crisis, for cutting government regulations, for strongly supporting Israel, for lowering taxes, for confronting Western European countries over their morally indefensible low defense spending and so much more that anyone who calls himself conservative should celebrate. Those achievements — not to mention preventing a left-wing, i.e. Democratic Party, victory in 2016 — are what should matter to every conservative and every American frightened by what the left is doing to the country, to its universities, high schools, families, gender relations and race relations, and everything else it touches.

If your house were on fire, would you be more concerned with the character of the firefighters sent to extinguish the fire or their firefighting ability?

The generation that grew up under one of the most decent presidential moral models — Dwight Eisenhower — turned out to be the most narcissistic, morally confused and unpatriotic generation in modern American history. So much for presidents as models for children.


Dennis Prager is a nationally syndicated radio talk-show host and columnist. His latest book, published by Regnery in April 2018, is The Rational Bible, a commentary on the book of Exodus. He is the founder of Prager University and may be contacted at


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  • Hmmm…

    It’s ironic to have that point raised since the Resistance is demonstrating open rebellion and hostility toward authority across so many sectors of society. That is what is really, really a bad example and dangerous. I’ve begun to experience what it feels like to be propagandized. It makes the news unfit about a new type of unfitness.

  • Patmos

    “90 percent of voters say the president should be a good role model for kids”

    This is a scary stat. It’s yet another indicator that the complete break up of the family is apparently on this country’s horizon.

    • faithntrust

      IMHO the 90% quote is ‘fake news’. Sad to say our ‘young people’ look at celebrities within their age group as role models/idols. & in that vain, President Trump would be a step up – he didn’t smoke, drink, or do drugs & became a multi-millionaire.

      • Chip Crawford

        True, even multi-billionaire these days …

  • Mark

    Teach your kids to be very cynical about politics. They should vote, but they should have no illusions about politicians. It’s never a matter of a saint running against a sinner, it’s two sinners, and you choose the one that you hope will do the least amount of harm. The Christian worships God alone, not any politician and not any party.

    I voted for Trump. I don’t like him much, but the alternative was even worse.

  • tz1

    The problem is with all the relativistic noise we’ve forgotten what manhood is about, much less “alpha”. In earlier eras, one could be chivalrous. Today, any politeness, consideration, civility is taken as weakness and exploited.

    Politeness and civility are granted by the strong to the weak. When the weak gang up and hire mercenaries, it no longer applies.

    I’d rather my sons grow up to be vulgar Alphas like Trump (minus the adultery, but notice how no one cares about prostitution or McCain’s adultery when his wife waited for him but was disabled in an accident? – where were the posturers in 2008?) than to be a weak cowardly milquetoast constantly apoligizing for his Christianity, maleness, or whiteness as “privilege” and having his lunch money taken by SJW crybullies.

    The vulgarity is only necessary BECAUSE Christians decided that being nice and polite were greater virtues than the truth.

    • Andrew Mason

      Weakness, or an offense? Chivalry is considered sexism for instance. It may not, yet, be a sackable offense, but give it time.

      Why can’t Christians strive to be polite AND truthful? Why shouldn’t Christians strive to be Christlike?

      • tz1

        Christ was NOT polite. Why should Christians strive to pull punches?

  • Howard Rosenbaum

    Yeah , Trump is no JFK …..oh wait a minute – maybe he was . Well at least BEFORE his presidency …

  • Barbara Snow

    I read a lot of comments on different things & I think 80% of the people use foul language & say nasty things. You can make a comment & they call you all kinds of filthy names from both sides of the isle. So to me it’s too late for kids to have a role model no matter what profession your in.The parents are the most important role models & looks like many failed from what I see on TV. I always hear about these polls but I never have been called on any. So who do these people call?

  • Irene Neuner

    I think the president is a good father figure and I am a Christian mother of five boys and one daughter. Yes he has some serious flaws and unfortunately most parents do.

    Something interesting I found the other night is how many times the word children appears in the Bible. I think it may be the most frequently used noun by a landslide.

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