I Don’t Care If Politicians Are Good People and Neither Should You

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Republican Congresswoman Lauren Boebert ignited a firestorm of condemnation after a video emerged of her and her date fondling each other in a theater. Immediately, there were morality judgments made about her, claiming that she shouldn’t be participating in this behavior, not just because it’s inappropriate but primarily because she’s a congresswoman.

It was ridiculous.

Would you care if your electrician were a neglectful parent? Would it matter to you if your favorite mechanic had a mistress? I believe most people would agree that this information is none of our business. Most of us would prefer to live in ignorance of the personal lives of those we are only associated with professionally.

Yet in politics, there is an odd obsession with wanting to know the moral proclivities of people who won a popularity contest to enter into government. Once something from their private life is uncovered, it’s used as a valid measure of their professionalism—some kind of absolute judgment against their ability to perform properly in their elected position.

I just don’t get it. Outside of someone committing a felony, I really don’t care what a politician does in his or her private life.

If Congresswoman Boebert was Lauren Boebert the cashier, the reaction to the allegedly incriminating video would have internet bros virtually high-fiving her date or rolling their eyes and telling them to get a room.

Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) leaves a House Republican caucus meeting at the U.S. Capitol on September 19, 2023 in Washington, DC.Kevin Dietsch/.

Of course, this isn’t just on the Right. A few weeks ago, former Fox News host Tucker Carlson interviewed Larry Sinclair, a man who claims he smoked crack and had sex with former Democratic President Barack Obama. The interview was interpreted as somehow crucial to how we should view Obama as a president in hindsight, assuming of course that what Sinclair was saying was even remotely true.

But why should this matter, even if it were true? Shortcomings in a person’s private life don’t necessarily equate to professional life failures. We know this from other notable people in a variety of professions.

There are countless musicians who were addicted to drugs and alcohol while making masterpieces of art. Think of the famous entrepreneurs who created highly successful companies while having mistresses or being absentee fathers.

Many of us have done things that would be seen as questionable, and much of it we personally regret. I know I have such episodes in my past. But these situations never hindered my professional life, and I think it’s unfair for us to use a person’s private imperfections as a weapon to hurt their professional endeavors.

There are those who believe that politicians need to be a cut above the rest of us, that politicians should confidently project perfection when we all know that perfection is an impossibility. It’s a fairytale.

In fact, most people know this and can easily forgive the mistakes and wrongdoing of politicians—if they are on their side politically. Think the millions of conservative Christians who don’t care that Trump was married multiple times and had sex with a porn star. Think of the lifelong Democrats who still don’t care about Clinton’s affairs.

Most people agree with me when it serves their political purposes. That’s because in politics, private life morality only matters when you can bludgeon your opponents with their imperfections, while tribalism won’t allow you to acknowledge the failures of your own side.

Both Boebert’s movie theater rubdown and Obama’s alleged crack and gay sex extravaganza involved third parties who made these private matters public by bringing them to the media. They did this because there is already a political ecosystem prepared to package these stories into carefully curated smear campaigns against their rivals.

I’m not a fan of Boebert, nor of President Obama, yet I really don’t care about either situation, and these stories haven’t swayed my beliefs, positively or negatively, about them as political figures.

Americans have been starved of competent politicians who are rational and in touch, in both parties, and I think it’s an error to potentially lose someone who is professionally capable simply because their personal life has flaws.

Politicians are not divine beings; they’re imperfect people elected by imperfect people. Let’s stop with the fantasy and focus on what matters.

Adam B. Coleman is an author, and founder of Wrong Speak Publishing. Find his writing at Adambcoleman.substack.com.

All views expressed in this article are the author’s own.

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