There is no shame anymore.
I am sick of hearing about the tawdry misadventures of Anthony Weiner, the 48-year-old pig of a politician who quit congress in 2011 in the midst of a scandal, and who is now running for the office of mayor in New York City. I am sick of hearing about this filthy excrescence, but I mention him here because his situation illustrates an important point about politics in America.
Weiner, who is married, left office after word got out that he sent lewd photos to young women who were not his wife. When news of that scandal first broke, Weiner lied about it, claiming his account had been hacked. He later admitted the photos were of him, and he had sent them.
Now, Weiner is boldly defying calls for him to drop out of the mayoral race in the face of reports of more lewd behavior involving sex texts and photos sent to a 22-year-old woman last summer.
Weiner apparently has no shame, and he certainly has no class.
What is most difficult to understand, is how he is even a viable candidate. One assumes that in a place like New York City, with a population of more than 8 million, there must be potential candidates with a less troubling resume.
If voters already know he is this sleazy before the election, what do they expect from him after the election?
Weiner has a record of violating the public trust. Why aren’t voters demanding something better? Why hasn’t he been laughed off the ballot?
There was a time when one of the worst penalties that could be imposed on a person was to make his embarrassing behavior public. Traditionally, many forms of punishment relied on public humiliation as a deterrent.
There was a time when people were more worried about having their infractions published in the newspaper than they were about fines or penalties imposed by the courts.
Today, the arrogance of some people, including certain politicians, knows no boundaries. Instead of shrinking from the public spotlight when their misdeeds are exposed, they brazenly vow to carry on. We have seen dramatic, tearful public quasi-apologies, during which it is clear that the only thing the person is sorry about is having been caught.
These disgraced politicians say they have changed, but the only thing that has really changed is that they intend to be more careful next time so they don’t get caught again. It apparently doesn’t mean they intend to stop the behavior that got them into trouble in the first place.
The real question in all of this is why voters don’t demand more from their elected representatives.
Surely there are plenty of intelligent, capable potential candidates who are also honest and honorable. So why do we keep electing depraved dimwits?
It is understandable that some elected officials will make mistakes, and others will deliberately abuse their positions for personal gain. They are people, and no better or worse than the rest of the population.
This doesn’t mean the public has to accept this kind of behavior.
Apathy is a cancer that is destroying our states and our country.
Partisans like to blame one party or the other for the mess we are in, but the real problem is not any single political philosophy it is apathy.
Unless voters become more aware, engaged, and start demanding more of their elected officials, the problems will only get worse.
We have become so indifferent that things such as gridlock in our legislatures, governmental shutdowns, and cities applying for bankruptcy have become somehow acceptable.
Sleazy politicians don’t get run out of town, they get re-elected.
There is no shame anymore, on the part of individuals or on the part of the electorate collectively.
We should be ashamed that our elected officials bicker rather than working together to solve problems. We should be outraged that our representatives run up enormous, un-sustainable public debts jeopardizing our future, and we should be embarrassed by the antics of some of the clowns we have chosen to represent us.
Instead, we have come to tolerate these things as though they were inevitable.
We need leaders who will spend their time working on real solutions to the challenges that confront us not taking lewd photos of themselves and texting them to strange women.
Unless we start demanding more from our representatives, we will deserve what we get.
Apathy is not the solution. It is the problem.