When to judge politicians’ behaviour

What are reasonable expectations to have of political reps
How perfect should they be in their private lives
(Opinion column written March 5 for Town Crier.)

Politicians are people too.
Okay I know that sounds obvious, but as Midtown councillor Karen Stintz points out people are flawed.
This means politicians, like us, aren’t perfect.
“Generally, the public is not interested in the flaws of politicians,” she tells me.
“Where it is a problem is if a politician presents themself in a particular light and doesn’t live up to that,” she says. “If you try to present yourself as perfect, you are bound to disappoint people because no one’s perfect.”
So it is when a politician is a hypocrite professing to be one way or preaching on a subject when they can’t uphold those same values that the real problem unfolds.

If politicians are completely upfront about their faults it gives us a chance to know who we are really electing, but will we reward this honesty
with votes?
Or instead are we more likely to elect a politician who tells us what we want to hear and hides their shortcomings.
I want to know what are reasonable expectations for the public and media to have on the conduct of politicians. How much perfection should we expect of a politician in their personal life?
Should we care that mayoral hopeful Adam Giambrone, an unmarried man, in a committed relationship has at least one sexual affair with another woman?
When this gossip came out in the media, he denied it, then confessed and vowed to end his plans to run for the city’s top political post.
What if a politician is seen drunk in public, is not paying child support or has cheated on their husband?
Should we hold politicians to a higher personal standard than we do ourselves or neighbour?
Professionally, I want to know the gossip as much as the next person but I am not convinced that it is always fair game for a story. I get calls and emails from people making allegations about the transgressions of politicians and I don’t write about every grudge someone wants to air in the media.
And yes I do care if politicians treat people with decency. But I don’t expect flawlessness from politicians.
And I agree with Councillor Stintz.
Where it becomes an issue is when a politician presents herself in one light but doesn’t uphold those standards in reality. That will always get people’s back up.
So yes when politicians behalf badly it does change our view of them, but for me this is not enough for me to demand their head on a plate for the public and media to pick apart.
What I care more about is that politicians uphold the laws they govern. So they should not break the public’s trust by taking bribes or other forms of corruption, shouldn’t drink and drive, not assault anyone and so on.
For me flaws in a politician are acceptable within reason, that story is as old as man.
And yes politicians should present themselves as honestly as possible, apologize when they mess up and don’t do anything illegal.
What are your expectations of politicians both before and after you elect them? Let me know.

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One response to “When to judge politicians’ behaviour

  1. I have only a couple of simple requests of my elected reps (and yes, I expect these to apply to me too);
    1) I expect them to be polite, no matter the issue. It’s okay to get mad or have passion (actually, passion is good), but it is NOT okay to be abusive to taxpayers.
    2) I don’t want to have to catch you TWICE. I expect the current crop of politicians to lie, obfuscate and try to “shades-of-gray” the truth. What I DON’T like is, when you’re busted, you try to lie your way out of it.
    My 4-year old has learned those rules; be nice, and when you screw up, admit it.
    I don’t think that’s too much to ask.

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