…a political candidate’s personal behavior is relevant!!! I just about literally threw up Thursday afternoon when I heard both a “psychology expert” and a lawyer (two different guests, not two experts rolled into one like myself!) on Fox News Channel telling the audience that a candidate’s personal life shouldn’t be of any concern. It should be of major concern to all voters, so, once again, all together now, all across the nation, here’s why:
If a candidate doesn’t mind breaking his (or her) marital vows, then it’s absolutely absurd for a voter to think that the same candidate will mind breaking campaign promises. Furthermore, a voter should be highly skeptical of how concerned a candidate really is about his (or her) constituency if that candidate engages in surreptitious personal behavior that could subject him to undue influence once he’s in office (and not just the undue influence of those with whom he engaged in the surreptitious personal behavior but also the undue influence of political adversaries who may discover the surreptitious personal behavior). Moreover, a voter should be highly concerned about a candidate’s judgment if that candidate would put his (or her) political reputation and career at risk for some extra-marital sex. And finally, a voter should be worried about how else the narcissism inherent in that kind of behavior is likely to manifest itself if/when the candidate wields the power of elective office.
As an expert in both human behavior (psychology) and how we govern our society (law), it makes me sick when I have to choose either a candidate who says he’ll do a lot of things that I’d like to see done but doesn’t appear trustworthy, or, a candidate who says he’ll do a lot of things that I’d hate to see done but does appear trustworthy. In that case, the only candidate who might do the things that I’d like is the one whose lack of character disgusts me, so I don’t feel good about voting for either one — as was so eloquently illustrated in an episode of Southpark, the choice then is between a “giant douche and a turd sandwich.” Regardless of our respective political views, I don’t want any of us to be faced with that kind of a choice this election year, so I’d prefer not to see anyone, of any party, who has a history of appalling personal behavior on any ballot, for any office, anywhere.
If we were to nominate a man for President whose own wives haven’t been able to trust him — if we didn’t both value and demand character in our nation’s leadership — what would that say about us as a citizenry? In terms of our nation’s future, I think it would say that we’d have a lot more to be worried about than just the outcome of the next election. We became the most powerful nation in the world caring about character — in business, in leadership, and in daily life. If our global competitors ever start caring more about character than we do, then I worry about our ability to remain ahead of them, economically and strategically. We have roughly 300,000,000 citizens in this country. We still have plenty of smart, principled Americans among us who are willing to serve in our public offices, so we don’t need to elect morally-bankrupt people. Far from being irrelevant, a history of appalling personal behavior should disqualify a candidate for public office in this country, period. Now please, straighten out your friends, relatives, neighbors, and coworkers who think otherwise so I don’t have to repeat this for a while, either here or on the air!