Tuesday I was asked to write an editorial giving a wallflower's opinion on the still highly publicized behavior of New York City's mayoral candidates. Namely, Anthony Weiner's continued "sexting" scandal in the midst of his political campaign.
"Why Are the NYC Candidates So BAD?" the email read.
I couldn't help but laugh.
See, I come from Illinois. I'm about as "not from New York" as it can get. I like my street in a grid, my pizza deep dish, and my hot dog with mustard, sport peppers, and celery salt. My home state is the same one that sent our last two governors to prison on corruption charges.
So when asked put in my two cents on the matter of dirty NYC politicians, well, the word "quaint" kept coming to mind.
But I digress. Besides, any argument on whose state is more politically bankrupt would just be really depressing.
What I hear regarding Anthony Weiner's latest scandal is how it directly conflicts with his public persona as a reformed family man. But I've heard very little on how it would directly impede his ability to govern if he were to be elected as New York's next mayor.
I'm sure many New Yorkers remember his viral video tirade back in 2010 when Weiner tried and failed to obtain federal financial aid for 9/11 victims and their families.
It brings up a question about Weiner and the seemingly endless stories of politicians caught in similar scandals: Would this be such a big deal if he weren't married?
Hear me out.
In an election, politicians work extra hard to present an a extra positive image to voters. In high-level politics, where our representatives are endlessly scrutinized by the public and press, hopeful and ambitious candidates will try to doll themselves up in order to endear themselves to the largest voting demographic. A married family man is familiar and gives a feeling of trust to voters.
Now I don't pretend to know what goes on in Weiner's brain (nor would I want to, not without a shower and hand sanitizer afterwards), but after multiple offenses to his marriage, one wonders if he tied the knot less out of love and more out of a desire to pickup an extra handful of votes.
If that is the case, would his "bad behavior" been viewed in a different light, if not completely ignored, if he'd remained a bachelor? I can't help but think that there are a lot of public representatives, both men and women, who just aren't that interested in marriage and family.
But with such an emphasis on marriage and family in politics, it almost becomes standard operating procedure for any politician seeking higher office get himself or herself a spouse tout suite. Even if they're not going to be 100% faithful.
Now obviously I'm not anti-marriage. But it seems like the higher up the chain you go, the more marriage becomes less like a loving union and more like a power play.
Anthony Weiner's exploits demonstrate, at least to me, that the political culture views marriage and family as just another selling point. If there's any solution to be found, it might be found with us, the voters. Putting more of an emphasis on ability over image might be a start.