In the past 6 to 8 months, the American voter has been subjected to one leader after another who has had personal failings exposed while running for office. This has not just been stories about the President either. Here in Arizona we continue to have salacious stories become public, about council members and candidates running for lower office.
The natural reaction is to assume that leaders today simply are not the leaders of years ago, and that a scandal ridden life is typical of the slimy politician.
This is hardly the truth of the matter however.
The real truth is that leaders, particularly political ones, have always had astounding character and personal character flaws and still managed to be able to lead our nation successfully. Grant was a notorious alcoholic. Lincoln may have been a lifelong sufferer of clinical depression. Clinton and Kennedy apparently had deep sexual peccadillos. Bush the Younger was a sufferer of drug addiction.
And yet, with all of these character issues, and issues with their judgment, things managed to get done and the country continued to grow and expand successfully.
This is not a problem of our generation either. Benjamin Franklin had his own sexual issues, and Jefferson had an affair with his own slave and did not free them until after his death. How many of these men would be able to get elected today, in this modern age of exposure and media scrutiny? Few, if any, I suspect.
Certainly no one likes to talk about the fact that they would vote for a wife beater or a raging alcoholic, but the truth of the matter is that at some point you probably already did, no matter your choice of political ideology. In fact you might be quite supportive of a leader—as long as you don’t know that he or she snorted a few lines of coke in the bathroom at the Press party last night. It’s easy to focus on salacious details of political leaders instead of the more serious matters. In a world where the most popular TV shows are the real lives of the Kardashians and the empty headed wives of Orange County, the average person has been trained to center on sex and vices. The problem occurs when we then translate that to the real world.
When Bill Clinton got caught in the Lewinsky affair, most people and the media were focused on the titillating details of the sex scandal unfortunately, rather than on the more serious issue of a President committing the felony of perjury.
The bottom line is that Americans need to stop being so judgmental about the personal lives of people who are elected or running for office. The fact remains that issues of personal foibles or judgment about their personal lives typically have little impact on their ability to lead, as strange as that may sound. Americans need to focus more on where a candidate stands on the pressing issues facing our country; what their political ideology is, and how they will or have voted on bills and laws.
In short, the examinations of a candidate or politicians record are far more important than the sexual position they take in the bedroom. I would dare say, in fact, that it is the only thing the average voter needs to be concerned about. The problem with focusing on a person’s personal life is that it takes the focus off the more important and pressing issues of political ideology. Every hour spent on a person’s drug habit is an hour that could have been spent on how and why they voted on the last relief bill.
What is astonishing too is that how a leader votes and comes to a political decision is going to have far more effect on our lives than how much that Congressman spent on his Visa last month or where he or she sleeps at night. People also seem to forget that we all have our problems and weaknesses in our own personal lives, yet still manage to get up every day and function at our own jobs for the most part. Our next door neighbor has problems with fidelity, drinking, gambling and a hundred other vices yet society still continues to function on a day to day basis.
If those problems eventually do affect their job performance, then that is the time to concern ourselves with it, and not before.
The next time we read a story about some man or woman that fell down in their personal lives and is running for office, we need to ask ourselves a far more important question.
How are they going to approach solving jobs issues, or the current inflationary problems, or how will they vote on unemployment relief should be the concern of the day.
Or how four men died in Benghazi or how the IRS has abused its power.