So far 2009 has been quite the year. We inaugurated our first African-American president, we battled a recession and we said farewell to some of the greatest people of our time. One of those people was Sen. Ted Kennedy, who lost his battle to brain cancer last week.
Kennedy devoted his entire life to public service and was arguably the greatest senator of all time. Yes, Kennedy was a great man with tremendous accomplishments. He was also responsible for the death of a 28 year-old woman. I will not focus too much on this incident or the rest of Kennedy’s life. Countless hours were spent by the media detailing those events last week.
But Kennedy’s public and private life made me wonder: Why do politicians behave so badly? Why do we allow this behavior to continue?
Granted, since the beginning of this nation, politicians have never been saints. Politicians have come up with some genius schemes that have ruined the lives of millions of people and have gotten this country involved in some incredible conundrums. But the behavior I’m talking doesn’t include scandals such as Watergate or diplomatic failures or economic disasters. Behavior prior to holding office gets a minimal pass too. People sometimes make silly decisions while in college or as a young adult. What I’m talking about is pure stupidity while in office. The type of behavior that makes you wonder why this person was elected in the first place.
I'm talking about behavior like running off to Argentina for six days on a love frolic, having affairs with staff members, possessing crack cocaine, seducing interns in the Oval Office--the list goes on. It is absolutely incredible the amount of ridiculous scenarios these people get themselves into. It’s almost like each politician is trying to outdo the next in a battle to see who can philander their way to victory.
The only logical reason why this behavior continues is because politicians know that they can get away with it and that they will be forgiven for it. Yes, we are all human, we all make mistakes, but not all of us are rich, powerful and control the nation. We need to stop being shocked every time a politician behaves badly. We need to hold them to a higher standard.