What Is Character?

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Worry about your character, not your reputation. Reputation is what people think of you. Character is who you are.

—John Wooden, legendary coach of basketball and character

Everyone admits that President Trump cares more about his character than about his reputation. Only a man concerned with his character would tell the truth.

Reputation is what people think of you. Character is who you are.

The Stoics teach us that reputation is beyond our control. Trump understands this. Mitt Romney does not.

What things are not under your total control? Your body, property, reputation, status, Because they are not under your total control they are weak, slavish, subject to restraint, and in the power of others. They do not concern you because they are outside your control.

—Epitetus, The Good Life Handbook, translation by Dr. Chuck Chakrapani

I get it. Young Republicans are trained to say “Yes’m” to any charge of racism. Like cowards. Or something that starts with “p” and rhymes with cat. Or something. Use your imagination.

Republicans worry about their reputations. Never their character.

Republicans live for the praise of the fickle world, not their true nature.

Republicans crave what they cannot have. They cannot control their reputations.

It takes courage to speak the truth.

It takes courage to speak the truth when your culture craves lies. When the culture wants its narrative reinforced. When the culture’s narrative is a lie, the culture demands confirmation.

And a culture in need of reinforcement punishes truth.

Donald Trump told the truth about Charlottesville. Trump spoke truth in every sentence and every syllable. But cowardly Republicans like Mitt Romney seek to control what others think about them by denying the truth Trump spoke.

What did Trump say that was true?

  • Racism is reprehensible
  • Nazis are horrible
  • Violence to suppress opposing views is criminal
  • Terrorists on the right and terrorists on the left clashed in Charlottesville
  • All terrorism is reprehensible

All true. 100% true. Undeniably true.

Never did President Trump defend racists or Nazis.

Never did President Trump justify their violence.

If you believed the lying headlines on HuffPo, Politico, Business Insider, and Vox, I urge you to feed your character by reading or hearing what the president actually said. Think for yourself. Like a grownup. Don’t skim the headlines like Mitt Romney. Don’t rhyme with cat.

The great family man Romney literally praised Antifa terrorists. To bolster his reputation. His reputation among people who called him a racist and a fascist in 2012 and consider him a fascist today.

Romney tweeted in praise of Antifa terrorists, justifying their violence because, in Mitt’s view, Antifa opposes racism.

No, not the same. One side is racist, bigoted, Nazi. The other opposes racism and bigotry. Morally different universes.

Really, Mitt? You’d be beaten to death and burned in a trash barrel if your Gucci loafers accidentally carried you and your Orvis gingham blazer into an Antifa riot. But, whatever, tough guy. You Mormon gansta you.

Character is who you are, not what people think of you.

Character is telling the truth, not to power, but to the pansies who want to hear lies that make them feel good about themselves. They’re everywhere.

Character is Charles Bukowski, not Mitt Romney. Per Mark Manson in The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F***:

See, despite the book sales and the fame, Bukowski was a loser. He knew it. And his success stemmed not from some determination to be a winner, but from the fact that he knew he was a loser, accepted it, and then wrote honestly about it. He never tried to be anything other than what he was.*

. . .

Bukowski didn’t give a fuck about success. Even after his fame, he still showed up to poetry readings hammered and verbally abused people in his audience. He still exposed himself in public and tried to sleep with every woman he could find. Fame and success didn’t make him a better person. Nor was it by becoming a better person that he became famous and successful.

Yet Charles Bukowski was a far better man than Mitt Romney. Because Bukowski was true. True to his character. Honest.

Bukowski cared more about his character than his reputation.

He could control his character. Not his reputation.

Romney doesn’t swear or drink or womanize. He just lies and cowers. And praises the terrorists he’s afraid of.

I realize I’m putting my reputation at risk by writing this truth. Americans hate the truth. And punish truth-tellers. But I’d rather die scared with honest men of character like Bukowski than live in smug shame with grinds like Mitt Romney.

Which rhymes with cat.

*Emphasis added.