It seems like the name of the game in politics this season is “Anything you can do, I can do better!” Not in the sense that politicians are attempting to be better people or more skilled than one another; if that were ever the case then there would be no need for columns like this. No, what I refer to is purely regarding scandalous behavior. From fathering love children to exposing oneself on the Internet, it seems members of political parties are now trying to out do each other when it comes to scandals.
Schwarzenegger attempted (and in my mind failed) to beat out John Edwards by siring a love child with his housekeeper and not too long after Anthony Weiner’s wiener was posted on Twitter, a conservative politician from Canada did the same, just without any underwear to hide it.
Then of course there have been the numerous sex scandals (and often if we’re dealing with a conservative politician, gay sex scandals) that we’ve seen lately. Sometimes these are relevant to whether or not it is appropriate to vote for someone (I would argue that the conservative gay sex scandals show a fundamental hypocrisy in the nature of the candidate) and sometimes they are just fodder for a bored and disillusioned public.
In modern day America, the rule of thumb for electing politicians seems to be more and more “someone who is like me” as opposed to “someone who knows what they’re doing.”
But why would any “average American” want a politician just like them?
Most people don’t even understand how our government works and even if they do they are hardly the most qualified people to run the nation. Many Americans complain about being talked down to or not being able to relate to politicians. Well, obviously. When we elect politicians we can relate to, they act the same way that we would act if suddenly given an immense amount of power.
They build bridges to nowhere, turn a surplus into a deficit and use their position for selfish purposes. But all that is okay as long as they seem like they’d be an enjoyable person to drink a beer with. I don’t know about you, but the people I have drunk beers with are certainly not the same people I want running my country.
However, if they do something as crazy as cheating on a spouse or being of a different religion (or even worse, no religion) then suddenly the “good ol’ boy” persona cracks and people want them out of office.
I’d much rather have a president like Bill Clinton (left office with both a surplus in the budget as well as a surplus of oral sex) than Sarah Palin (left office with a deficit, abused her political power but she never cheated on her husband!)
Sadly, considering how career-killing these scandals are, it seems I’m in the minority.