June 25, 2009 at 3:42 pm #74732
I’m thinking about South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford and his situation and the response of the public and media. I wonder why, in the U.S., we (public/media) so vilify an unfaithful government official. In all of these cases there is so much lying that what began as an act of immorality becomes an issue of that public official’s accountability to serve. Does lying about an affair make them unfit as a leader or just as a mate? Would there be less lying if our culture/mores were different?
I asked this on Facebook this morning and one response was interesting and valid, IMO:
“I think as long as politicians continue to legislate our personal lives and personal choices, not to mention judge OUR “morality” about such lifestyles and choices, then they come off as utter hypocrites (not to mention just plain stupid) when they make the perceived “wrong” choices and behave “immorally.”
Am I reading in this comment that those who are tasked with legislating our lifestyles should have a higher degree of accountability than their constituents? If so, it makes sense. As stewards of public policy, government officials, especially the elected ones, are expected to be even more responsible –but more responsible than whom?
If our elected officials are merely a representation of the public they serve (and I know this is debatable), does this event and others like it say anything about society’s hypocrisy? What’s your take on this?
June 25, 2009 at 10:53 pm #74754
I was having this debate with someone earlier today about Sanford vs other politicians that are embezzling money and taking bribes. Sanford and other personal problems are often beat up more in the press more than much more serious embezzlment and corruption scandals. I guess it is just what is easier to report but I think the later are more egregious and serious.
June 26, 2009 at 1:08 am #74752
That’s what I thought, too, till I heard he had used government money to fly back and forth to Argentina.
June 26, 2009 at 2:56 pm #74750
David Runciman explains, in his interesting book, Political Hypocrisy, that the most dangerous form of political hypocrisy is to claim to have a politics without hypocrisy; that it is actually much more cynical to pretend that politics can ever be completely sincere. Furthermore, he suggests that we should accept hypocrisy as a fact of politics, but without resigning ourselves to it, let alone cynically embracing it. We should stop trying to eliminate every form of hypocrisy, and we should stop vainly searching for ideally authentic politicians. Instead, we should try to distinguish between harmless and harmful hypocrisies and should worry only about its most damaging varieties. What are the limits of truthfulness in politics? And when, where, and how should we expect our politicians to be honest with us, and about what? Runciman’s book explores the problems of sincerity and truth in politics, and how we can deal with them without slipping into hypocrisy ourselves, via a historical perspective.
June 30, 2009 at 1:11 am #74748
Dennis: Thanks for your comment. I am also reading more about the use of state funds to “finance” this relationship and that brings up a whole other situation.
June 30, 2009 at 1:15 am #74746
Hypocrisy and honesty. In politics where do we insulate the personal from the professional. They seem to blend. What expectations should we have or expect in our elected officials if they are a reflection of the society they serve? Does society as a whole have some responsibility to take a closer look at our candidates to find those that are not only professionally fit for office, but morally fit as well?
June 30, 2009 at 1:18 am #74744
Good point and comparison. Has the governor committed a crime here or just a bad moral judgment?
June 30, 2009 at 1:20 am #74742
I believe you are speaking for many of the people out there. You also hit the head of the nail: hypocrisy leads to other misjudgments; some of them possibly illegal.
June 30, 2009 at 10:38 am #74740
I think bottom-line, it is bad politics to get caught cheating on your wife. I can’t cheat on my wife. My friends can’t cheat on their wives. We love and respect them to much to hurt them in that way. Why should our elected official be able to cheat and hurt their wife? They shouldn’t be allowed too. He should have done the right thing which leave his wife first, start divorce proceeding, or agree to an open marriage, something with openness and transparency to his electorate. He doesn’t represent the good values that I hold true. He doesn’t represent the good values that I want my children to hold true. I wouldn’t vote for him.
June 30, 2009 at 7:09 pm #74738
Like Charlie and Jerry (below), you speak for many people as well. Your POVs cover the issue of accountability –on the professional side and on the personal side. Looks live the Governor would receive a Failing grade on both of these. Thanks for your comment. Dan
June 30, 2009 at 10:05 pm #74736
Thank for your comment and participation. I agree.
All The Best
July 25, 2009 at 8:23 pm #74734
Isnt he one of the ones who villified President Clinton? It doesn’t matter that he sacked up some gal on the side, but when he’s using state money, its called corruption. If he wouldn’t have used the states money, and paid for things himself, his wife or someone else would have found out sooner. Of course it appears she had it figured out anyway.
Then there is the logic that if he can break his vows of his marriage, is his word worth anything in the other things he does. I supported Bill Clinton after his debacle, but certainly not with the same trusting spirit I had before.
If you play, you pay.
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