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The film THE FRONT RUNNER was based on the book ALL THE TRUTH IS OUT: THE WEEK POLITICS WENT TABLOID by Matt Bai. Long ago, in what feels like another world, a man named Gary Hart gave away his gigantic chance at the American presidency because he had cheated on his wife. People were torn at the time. What did his infidelity mean beyond his family? Some insisted it meant he wasn’t a trustworthy man and wouldn’t make a suitable president in spite of his perspectives on national issues. Others argued it wasn’t worth losing an excellent candidate because he didn’t have a blemish-free marriage. Isn’t that a personal relationship problem? Behind closed doors, reporters talked quietly about the many affairs other beloved American leaders throughout history had maintained, protected by an implicit agreement that their private lives were exactly that and not fodder for news. Reporters respected the difference. It was an unwritten law. But those instances came before the eruption of tabloids and tabloid-style “news.” Do we have a right to know everything we CAN know?
Has the seemingly insatiable appetite of the masses for snooping and scandal taken us to a place where personal indiscretions are confused with professional corruption? Morality seems to have become rubbery for our “leaders,” with many ignoring it all together if they see enough potential personal gain. Private indiscretions seem to have sunk to new lows, but so, too, have glaring violations of human ethics tied to political position. Acts that once would have been instantly branded as illegal and probably treasonous go unpunished…at least for the moment. In certain cases, justices are purchased so they ignore case law and rule according to the wishes of buddies.
Have we embraced the old saying, “The ends justify the means?” Our Vice President claims the right to judge and punish from what he believes is high moral ground—except in the case of his boss and meal ticket who can do no wrong. The VP runs with many members of what used to be the Republican party who stumble through their days because they’ve turned a blind eye so many times they seem to be losing their sight altogether. The White House staff invents baseless excuses for behavior they can’t explain, not unlike naughty children caught in the act.
When we elect representatives at any level, don’t we have a right to demand they do their jobs and represent the welfare of all their constituents? But do we own them? Do we have a right to know every detail of their personal lives when we pay them only to run our government? Maybe not. Maybe if we pulled a curtain around private lives and directed our scrutiny solely on what our representatives DO FOR US and whether what they do is both ethical and effective, we would regain better focused control. We would stop being distracted from crises that impact everyone. Were Trump’s prostitutes and likeability more important to his candidacy than his lying corruption and lack of empathy? In a free country, who has a right to judge the personal decisions of another—as long as they don’t violate laws? Who has a right to say what is acceptable humor or sexuality, correct religion or suitable culture? But, yes, all citizens definitely do have a right to a voice in their laws and government—at least that was the original idea. We haven’t bought into a different form of government yet, have we? Just wondering.