The recent Eliot Spitzer saga of depravity has gotten me to wondering lately why we are so prone to investing an inordinate amount of trust and belief in the goodness and character of our leaders. We, as a society, seem to indulge in the notion that those whom we elect to public office and those whom we trust to run the businesses we rely on, are above reproach and have only the finest of motives and the good of the people they serve at heart. Then, when those trusted officials prove to be flawed and even deviously perverted, we react with shock at the audacity of their transgressions.
Why do we expect more from those people than we do of any other person? We should anticipate a closet filled with skeletons of past misdemeanors being stuffed with new felonies by those we expect to be above reproach. Instead of praising and blessing their efforts at public governing and business management, we should be expecting the proverbial other shoe to fall with a deafening thud when their foibles, idiosyncracies, and peccadilloes come to light. Then we would merely shake our heads at the hubris they show in flaunting their disdain for the morality and ethics that we assume accrue to public office. Lower expectations lead to lower shock value. It would be far easier to tsk-tsk the sexual and ethical missteps if we expect them to happen than to crumble under the weight of revelation when we anticipate a higher code of conduct from those in power.
History, especially recent history, has shown our trust in the goodness and morality of our elected representatives to be sorely misplaced. The list of senators and congressmen involved in questionable sexual activities is long and depressing. That the list includes a former president only accentuates the pervasive lack of moral fiber that infects those who aspire to leadership roles. There seems to be a notion among that ilk that the general rules of proper conduct do not apply to them, that their public service exempts them from following the rules we all adhere to. Reckless conduct and the notion that they won’t be caught acting recklessly, is a trait that we would be well served to breed out of our elected officials.
I also have to question the saintly forbearance that the wives of those miscreants show in their public appearances, standing stoically behind their man on the dais while he admits to his crimes and asks for forgiveness. Most normal wives would have hung the lecher by his testicles, drawn and quartered him, chopped him into chum, and fed him to the sharks. I find the show of tolerance and forgiveness to be disingenuous at best and delusional at worst. But I suppose that show of solidarity is a last gasping effort to retain some dignity in a situation that calls for screaming and stabbing. While love and the vow to endure through all things good and bad may be a factor, the show of devotion to such moral criminals is beyond any reasonable expectations.
So I, for one, have given up any hope that our leaders are a cut above the guttersnipes they keep hidden behind their righteous facades. It is only a matter of the time it takes muckraking investigators to uncover the private actions we don’t really want to know about to tumble the chosen ones from their pedestals.
Fall they will. It’s only a matter of when.