Transparency in Politics: Judge Not the Mistakes You See

Although I’ve been hiding away in papers for the last few weeks, I figured I’d post something semi-relevant to the earlier brief mentionings of Spitzer. I recently made a comment to a professor, during a class discussion on Julius Caesar, that I would prefer a leader who oscillated morally or politically on an issue who was at least honest, to a tyrannical leader who happens to be pulled together but is cloaked in distance/mystery. To my surprise, my professor disagreed. He agreed that few can rule absolutely and do it well, but that for the few that can, society should reward them with complete trust.

His belief in an absolute power that is neutral of personal motivations is what particularly shocked me. In the midst of Spitzer’s scandal, Patterson’s follow up that makes it a double whammy, and Harper’s threat to sue the Liberals, I find myself disenchanted with a society that believes any politician can remove himself from identity issues, die-hard loyalties and the various other forces that blind a politician from leading objectively.

Spitzer’s scandal is an easy target because sex is always a dirty little secret, but I am more disenchanted with a society naive enough to be shocked when this goes on, than I am with New York’s ex-governor. Where did people get the idea that politicians were supposed to exemplify the moral and ethical standards of the society it governs? As much as I’d love to be sarcastic right now, I seriously think it’s unrealistic to ever expect some kind of different standard from politicians than from greater society.

This may seem horribly pessmistic, especially coming from a Christian. However, if one takes a brief look at the Spitzer/Ashley Dupre situation, it’s easy to see that the papers and blog-feeds are only filling people in by the hour because the rest of the world wants to be confirmed, wants to know that the perverse part of them curious of or participating in similar shady dealings is completely normal. After all, even POLITICIANS are doing it.

Where did this “Even Politicians” justification come from? It never worked with Divine Right and it still doesn’t work with the worship of our democratic chosen ones. The world is worldly, whoever you might be.

I suppose my optimistic contribution to this realization is that pastors and men and women who lead and provide examples in churches can and must be morally exemplary. I never seem to be able to pinpoint the specific responsibilities of clergy and lay-leaders in our churches today (it seems to depend  if I’m high or low church on any given day), but I truly believe leaders in the church are called to be something politicians aren’t. Paul’s description of deacons who “prove themselves blameless” (1 Tim 3:8-13)doesn’t give the Church room to let a few things slide here and there, but it’s rules for the holy not the high and mighty, pure and simple.

I’m not quite sure where the religious right gets the idea that this description is supposed to apply to politicians. (I’m making a leap that the religious right believes this without an example, so correct me if I’m wrong).

Let’s have some separate standards for the church, and for goodness sake, just let it slide with the politicians. Half the time their mistakes are covered up by likeminded media anyways.