Governor John Doe and Senator Jane have embezzled hard earned cash for the last time. They have visited their last brothel, tapped their foot in the last bathroom stall, fathered their last illegitimate child, tweeted their last inappropriate picture – and let’s not forget – tried to sell their last Senate seat. The only thing left for them to do is to step down, remove the money from underneath their mattresses, claim all their children, wipe the shame from their faces, and pray to everything holy that the American public (and their spouses) will find it in their hearts to one day look past their moral faux pas.
I wish more than anything that I could tell you Governor John Doe and Senator Jane are fictional characters, but unfortunately that is not the case. I acknowledge that not all politicians enjoy the same recreational activities as Governor John Doe and Senator Jane, but reading the news lately, it seems a lot like it. Before I could fully recover from the Anthony Weiner scandal, news broke of Rod Blagojevich’s conviction on seventeen counts of corruption. This is not just a phenomenon present in the United States, however. We see it around the world, from Karnataka to Greece. In Italy, corruption has become so commonplace that the name Silvio Berlusconi is virtually synonymous with the word corruption. Just recently in Australia former Labor MP, Karyn Paluzzano, similarly faced corruption charges. The list goes on and on.
As a society, we have let our politicians get away with too much for too long. We are too sympathetic, too forgiving. Granted, this is not entirely our fault. We love comeback stories (I mean, who doesn’t?), but look where it has taken us. We have our politicians dropping out of office like flies. At this point, I have lost track of what is dwindling faster, the economy or our confidence in elected officials. Maybe I was naive before, but bad behaviour on the part of our representatives and elected officials used to shock me. Now, though, it is good behaviour that does.
The pattern has become all too predictable: do something you obviously shouldn’t do; when you inevitably get caught, lie about it; when you’re found guilty, acknowledge misconduct and give a heartfelt speech (preferably shed a tear or two, we love that). Once that’s done, leave office, stage a comeback, repeat. So to break this pattern, I say we adopt a new motto: spare the rod, spoil the politician. No more comebacks. If you do something worthy of making you leave office, you stay out. It is time to raise the stakes for bad behaviour. Clearly it takes a lot more than what we are doing now to deter politicians from bad behaviour. I want to be proud of the people that I vote into office. I want the people I voted to represent me to actually represent me, even if that means holding them to a higher standard. Maybe I am being too harsh, but I want the best candidate for the job, not the best candidate that money can buy. I want a candidate that won his or her office seat, not bought it. And I want aspiring leaders and politicians, not aspiring photographers, leading my country.
I don’t know if anyone gave Governor John Doe and Senator Jane the memo, but fathering children left and right, trying to sell office seats, accepting bribes, and sending lewd pictures of yourself – though tempting – is no way of winning over our hearts, our votes, and most importantly, our respect.
– Wendy Papakostandini