Opening up the political bedroom

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By Estefania Duran

Adultery is something that is generally considered wrong, however, even in a democracy — where more is expected from our elected representatives — it goes by unnoticed or quickly fades away. I am dumbfounded that society chooses to forgive politicians who cheat on their loved ones so easily. If we know it to be wrong, why do we pardon it?

The argument I often hear is that their personal lives should be kept separate, and that we have no business with what happens in our politicians’ bedrooms. As lovely as privacy sounds, we should care about such incidents and demand more from our representatives.
So why should we be concerned if they are being unfaithful?

Something vital for people to understand is that politicians are elected into their positions. Unlike CEOs or managers, they have been voted into the position to act as representatives of their constituents. Therefore, it is only natural that we expect more from them, since their actions not only affect them and their workplace, but us as well.

As public figures with power, morals and values should be present in every decision they make, be it private or public. When politicians decide to break the unwritten moral rules or values, they have to remember they are the representative face of the community, the province, or the country; their embarrassment affects everyone, and diminishes the value of their moral code.

It is very important to note that an unfaithful politician might still be a very bright person with a lot to offer. However, not questioning their judgment and how it can affect their position is an error on our behalf. As voters, we should be concerned with their ability to make good judgment calls and their capability of measuring consequences.

It may be true that not all cheating politicians will go on to make bigger mistakes, but this is a chance voters should not have to deal with. The higher the office they run for, the higher the expectations are. Therefore, when politicians decide to run, they do so fully aware of such expectations. Demanding they have good judgment should not be so far fetched.

When someone runs for office — be it provincial, municipal, or federal — they have usually worked most of their lives towards this goal. It requires a lot of time and dedication, so when we elect representatives, we do so thinking this is a position they respect. If politicians commit adultery with the awareness that such act might bring the loss of their office, it demonstrates a lack of good judgment and disregard for the position.

Take for instance Sweden’s PM Fredrik Reinfeldt, who recently got a divorce. He explained his marriage was no longer working, and though there may be people who do not agree with divorce, I am sure everyone would rather see a relationship come to an end maturely. This is not to say he would have cheated otherwise, but he had the courage to admit his relationship was no longer working, and can continue serving his people free of scandal.

We are all human, and mistakes do happen. With that said, every action has a consequence, and no one is free of them. As politicians, the consequences of their actions are higher. We should not judge their character, or whether they are evil or not for cheating; however, we should definitely evaluate their judgment and make them accountable for their actions.

It’s vital for society to question the kind of risk framework that politicians who are unfaithful have. For a person in a position of power, the ability of calculating risk is one of the important skills for their job. For that reason precisely their actions should make us wonder about the decisions and risk calculations they are going to make when they affect us most.