Put Politics Before Leaders’ Personal Lives
This country didn’t always focus so much on presidential candidates’ personal lives. For much of American history, voters were rarely offered the deep insight into candidates’ personal lives that we almost take for granted today. Times have certainly changed; now citizens have access to all kinds of information about politicians’ pasts whenever they want it. Some of this knowledge is useful and relevant to selecting leaders. However, some of this political trivia is unnecessary and irrelevant. As a country, we need to get better at sorting the relevant from the inconsequential.
There are aspects of people’s pasts that should be taken into account when they are seeking a leadership position. Past choices and blunders can tell you a lot about a candidate. Voters shouldn’t be completely unaware of whom they are voting for. They deserve insight into a candidate’s quality of character and capability in return for their support for that candidate. It’s crucial to be an informed voter.
Recently, former vice presidential nominee John Edwards went on trial for allegedly using campaign funding to support a woman with whom he was having an affair. All of this occurred while his wife was undergoing treatment for breast cancer. This back story says a lot about Edwards’s moral character. Although in some ways it is a personal issue, it is relevant to Edwards’s political track record since it is directly tied to his campaign. This information is valuable to voters’ decisions and is relevant to whether or not Edwards would have been a responsible leader for the country.
Information regarding the Blagojevich scandal is another example of relevant political facts that should influence a leader’s career. Former Governor of Illinois Rod Blagojevich attempted to sell President Barack Obama’s Senate seat and then lied about it to the FBI. The public deserves to know about this kind of political history.
Still, some information about leaders’s pasts is unnecessary and unrelated to their ability to be a responsible leader.
Criticism of Edwards’s four–hundred–dollar haircuts shouldn’t hold as much sway as his alleged campaign fraud. The outrage surrounding Mitt Romney’s choice to put his dog on the roof of his car during a long road trip is also unimportant in the grand scheme of things. Still, animal rights activists got upset and the media used it as an attack against Romney’s political integrity. While putting a house pet on the roof of a moving car might not be the most responsible or intelligent decision, this piece of trivia has little to do with Romney’s capabilities as a potential president. If Democrats and the media are looking for dirt on Romney, they might focus on his actual political blunders. Truthful information regarding questionable ethics apparent in Romney’s political career, not his personal life, would be much more effective in swaying the public.
Unnecessary information and too much emphasis on politicians’ personal lives can distract from larger issues. The debate over President Barack Obama’s birth certificate rages on, with some Republicans still claiming that it is the most important issue of his presidency. Even before Obama proved that he was indeed born in the United States, the birth certificate debate was a petty one. Why not spend more time and energy focusing on Obama’s politics, not his nationality? These are historical facts that should take a back seat to real issues when leaders are evaluated and critiqued.
People’s political pasts should definitely shape the public’s opinion towards its leadership candidates. Many past political actions cannot be ignored. However, other information isn’t actually politically relevant and should take the back seat to larger, more important issues. In this way, Americans will have an opportunity to make an educated but not distorted decision about whom they want as their leaders.