America has become one of the most tolerant places on the planet, especially when it comes to politicians. There are few countries that turn a blind eye to politicians’ tawdry behavior and still welcome them with open arms. In all honesty, I thought America would have been one of the final holdouts for morality in office.
Everyone wants marriage to be the true “’til death do you part” union, but that is unrealistic in today’s world. We have had wonderful people serving in the public eye who go through divorces, remarry and continue to ultimately have stellar marriages and careers. Those aren’t the marriages that fall to the standards of political disgrace.
So where is the line of disgrace in politics? Some would have thought an extra marital affair with a White House intern would have been a strong enough line to never cross again. You would have thought impeachment hearings would scare civility into any politician. But then again, maybe the line should have been drawn with a campaign affair, say for example, while your wife is fighting cancer–and let’s throw in a financial corruption case for added flair.
Perhaps politicians are so engrossed in their duties they don’t take the time to learn from other people’s mistakes. Or perhaps they are so competitive that it is their goal to ‘out-do’ one another with indiscretions and escapades. The latter seems to be true in the case of several of our former Governors:
The “Missing Governor”: Former South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford was reported “missing” only to be found in Argentina with his mistress…
“Father of the Maid’s Son” Governor: Former California Governor (and movie star) Arnold Schwarzenegger’s affair with his maid was discovered by wife Maria Shriver when she noticed how much the maid’s son looked like Arnold…
“Client #9” Governor: Former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer got caught spending over $80,000 on prostitutes. Ironically—and you can’t make this stuff up–he is now running for NY City Comptroller against his former madam, Kristin M. Davis…
Let’s also not forget how congressional misbehavior has been realized with the creation (and misuse) of Twitter. (Here is just part of a list which describes indiscretions of political spouses.)
So why do they do it?
Researchers confirm politicians straying isn’t a new phenomenon. However, within the past 150 years we have begun to hold them to a higher standard, not expecting their wives to “turn a blind eye”. Researchers have also found individuals, predominantly male but also female, in places of power and thus possessing confidence in themselves, are more likely to cheat or be tempted to cheat on their wives.
The power that comes with politics is not only a detriment and misused on the floor of Congress, but it appears it also corrupts marriages. So why do we continue to take these philanderers back?
Mark Sanford, the disgraced former South Carolina Governor, recently won a special election for a South Carolina Congressional seat. Part of the explanation for his win over his Democratic opponent was, the district up for grabs had been in Republican hands since the early 1970’s, therefore it would naturally be retained by a Republican. It’s obvious that some Republicans had voted with their political minds instead of their moral compass. In voting this way, constituents turned a blind eye to the honesty and morality of a candidate, for the sake of the Party.
New York voters will be faced with the same circumstances in the upcoming elections for Mayor of New York City, sought by Anthony Weiner (former Congressional Tweeter) and Eliot Spitzer (Client #9).
As voters, are our only choices now recycled, cheating politicians? If power is the driving force that propels politicians into damaging, immoral behavior, how will that rule their actions when it comes to making decisions that affect all of us?
It is never wrong to encourage individuals who have manufactured highly controversial choices in their life to try and “rehabilitate” and become productive individuals. However, voting and the political process is not something any of us should participate in without engaging our morality when making decisions regarding who will hold office.
Numerous photos of penitent adulterers don’t resolve the issue of being enabled to control a growing power problem. Everyone makes mistakes; however, if indiscretions are made while in places of great authority and influence, what other ramifications might arise? In the eyes of other nations and figures of government, isn’t the cheating politicians’ effectiveness tainted? I would argue that it is. Histories of deception in a person’s life follow them, no matter the dishonest practice.
As Americans, we have no one to blame but ourselves as the morality of our nation continues to decline—especially if we begin to make a habit of reemploying cheating politicians. As these politicians’ behaviors are confirmed as acceptable by winning elections, it may become easier for them to continue in a practice of misuse of their power and begin to justify unacceptable political behaviors. Redemption of one’s morals does not always have to be found in the profession that brought about the demise. There are many other areas where former Civil Servants can regain their purpose and fulfill their desire to serve the community and the nation- just not in an elected office.
Simply stated, retreads are not good on the road–or in political office.