There is a distinction that should be made between ones personal life and professional life. Even for us college students, having our private lives intertwined with our work lives is usually a bad idea. The same goes for people in higher positions in society, who are often considered super humans who should never make mistakes. But if they do, somehow everyone feels it’s their job to condemn them for it. When it comes to prominent people in society, I think that if it’s not illegal, what goes on behind closed doors is no one’s business.
Politicians who are unfaithful to their spouses, including South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford, are no exception to that rule. After publicly admitting to cheating on his wife with an Argentinean woman, Sanford has been repeatedly asked to resign from office. He has also been mercilessly attacked in the media, which has been the case with many politicians who have suffered this scandal before him.
I don’t see any reason for Sanford to resign, especially after looking at his political track record. According to the National Governors Association (NGA), South Carolina was in a $1 billion debt in 2003, shortly after Sanford had been elected. Because of his push for fiscal responsibility within state government, the South Carolina was able to start their next budget process out of that deficit.
According to the NGA, when Sanford was re-elected in 2006, there were 150,000 more people working in the state than before he was elected, which represented a 15-year record for employment increase. But I’m sure no one knows about any of the above overshadowed information, since the only picture we can paint of Gov. Sanford lately is that of an adulterer.
I will start by saying I don’t condone cheating, especially when it involves travelling overseas on the dime of the people you work for. But if I were a resident of South Carolina, I would only be disappointed in Gov. Sanford as a man, not as a governor. I do not think the fact that a man is unfaithful to his wife has anything to do with the way he does his job; I think it just proves he is human.
The act of being unfaithful is a mistake millions of men make. According to Divorce Magazine, 45.8 percent of today’s marriages in the United States end in divorce. It is also estimated that 50 percent of men will cheat at some point in their lives, for every reason from “I had the option” to “my marriage wasn’t working.” The only difference between these men and Sanford is that they don’t have to man up to their mistakes in front of the whole world.
Some of the most influential politicians of our time have been labeled cheaters: John F. Kennedy and his brother Robert Kennedy supposedly both had affairs with Marilyn Monroe. New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, the man who helped N.Y.C. recover after Sept. 11, married the woman who was once his mistress, and of course, Bill Clinton, who helped reduce a massive national deficit during his two-term presidency, famously cheated on Hilary with Monica Lewinsky. Even the most brilliant people are going to make stupid choices in life, and it doesn’t make them any less capable at succeeding in their trade.
When trying to decide what politician to support, I think we need to look at how they have done their job in the past; what they have improved, how they treat their citizens and, of course, the positions they take on important issues. If a nominee is caught with a Meth lab in their basement or is charged for murder, obviously they’ve lost my vote. But personal matters involving their home and family, no matter how much people disagree with them, should not have an impact on the public’s opinion.
As people who have also messed up in our lives, we need to show a little mercy, and as the people holding their future in our hands, we need to look at their qualifications rather than their dirty laundry.