By Quin Hillyer at the Washington Examiner;

Culture matters. So do character and integrity.

All three should be essential considerations when making political choices.

A spirited debate erupted online Tuesday when Federalist columnist D.C. McAllister wrote, against the backdrop of the controversy about Alabama’s now-famous Judge Roy Moore, a thoughtful column whose headline accurately captured its gist: “Why It’s Justified To Vote For A Morally Questionable Politician.”

Within hours, conservative columnists Ben Shapiroand Erick Erickson weighed in against McAllister with their own full columns, and right-leaning New York Times columnist Ross Douthat responded in much the same fashion with a series of tweets.

Without rehashing their various viewpoints (which you can read for yourself via the links above), suffice it to say these writers disagree about the long-vexing questions of if, and under what circumstances, citizens should refuse to vote for candidates with significant moral failings.

For example, I might be able to support an otherwise talented, principled conservative even if he committed adultery a full decade before, but then came clean, apologized, and salvaged what is now an apparently now-stable, loving marriage. But if (repeat: if) a fully adult man in any way sexually abused a 14-year-old, I would consider it irretrievably disqualifying from office, even 40 years later.

But what if the levels of misdeeds and repentance are somewhere in between?

Where I live in Alabama, most voters are struggling with such questions. More broadly, the issue of how much character should count has perplexed Americans for years, and presented themselves full-force during last year’s presidential election. Some conservatives (myself included) argued that Donald Trump’s outlandish character flaws were a bridge too far to ever earn our vote; others argued the raw, utilitarian viewpoint (quoting a 2016 column that a friend sent me last week) that because “we tried statesmanship” and it didn’t work, all that now matters is that we fight and win….

[Go here for the full essay.]