How about this – a knock against politicians, and it’s not about Republicans! Well actually it’s going to be about a Republican, but the point applies to virtually any politician.
When asked why voters should trust him when his own children won’t support him (a silly question, unless you believe that children should be raised as automatons, but there you go), Rudy Guiliani said that people should ‘leave my family alone’. Here’s what John Aravosis of AmericaBlog says in reply:
Let me get this straight. Rudy Giuliani can pontificate about MY family. He can retract his support for gay civil unions because of his judgment of the worth of my family. But when we look at Giuliani’s family, in order to discern his family values, that’s off limits.
Then there’s Mitt Romney. He’s running as the religious right candidate. He wants America to live under religious law. But don’t ask Mitt about his own religion, Mormonism – the religion he’s going to use as a basis for all those religious laws he’s promising to pass. Oh no.
The extremists running the Republican party have two sets of values. The ones they live under, and the ones they expect YOU to live under. They spend like drunken sailors, but they expect you to tighten your belt. They send our troops off to wars based on a lie, without the proper equipment, and you hate the troops. They have more divorces and marriages and affairs than Zsa Zsa Gabor, but you’re the threat to family values. And September 11 happens under their watch, but you’re the one who’s weak on terror.
This is, bizarrely, what we expect of politicians, regardless of party. The few who actually live according to the principles they espouse are mocked as lacking realism, of being idealists (the horror!), of being crackpots. Paul Wellstone and Denis Kucinich are a couple who spring to mind; not saints, but men honestly trying to do what they believe to be right. I’ve no doubt they have their equivalents on the right, though names escape me.
This doesn’t make them right in their beliefs, and it certainly doesn’t imply effectiveness. It just means that they recognize that the decisions governments make might be abstractions when they’re made, but they are realities to the people affected. A current example of the disconnect is the economy; Republicans (but if tables were turned it could as easily be Democrats) pointing out that the economy is growing, so people should be more cheerful. This forgets (or ignores) that the economy is an abstraction, whereas a pay slip is a concrete. A growing economy is nice, but a growing pay packet is what’s real.
So Rudy is right that people should leave his family alone. It’s just a shame that he, and so many of his colleagues, won’t pay us the same courtesy.