Americans have been lectured to about sexual immorality by congressmen with their flies open for far too long. We’ve been scolded about business ethics by senators who bend rules for Wall Street way too often.
Did Rush Limbaugh cross a line by calling a woman a slut and a prostitute simply for “talking” about birth control? Oh, God yes. It’s a line so big you can see it from space. Doing it was wrong on every level. Condemning it is the right thing to do.
And yet … isn’t it interesting that the politicians who most often claim to occupy the moral high ground are the ones who wouldn’t stand up and be counted?
Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich, Roy Blunt, Mitch McConnell, Mark Rubio … all of them either were silent when Limbaugh called Sandra Fluke those names, or they issued the weakest of statements saying, “I didn’t do it.”
Is that moral leadership? Because if that’s the way they stand up to be counted, I wouldn’t trust them to talk about ethics to a kindergarten class. The posters taped to the classroom walls have more to say about good values.
Come on, take a look at the presidential field. Are we really supposed to think these guys know something about moral values that we don’t?
Because, right off the bat, I’m going to say that anyone who …
1. Refuses to defend a woman when she’s called a prostitute in public because the man who accused her has a radio show,
2. Takes money from the banking industry and then makes it easier for banks to foreclose on homes they don’t own,
3. Finds out that a colleague is using the congressional page program as a booty-call service and doesn’t demand their immediate resignation, or
4. Establishes a SuperPAC in order to go negative in a campaign while keeping his hands clean,
… should just shut up about morality. Seriously. Zip it. Values are something you live, not something you talk about, and you have no right to lecture ordinary Americans about how they live their lives.
Americans have been lectured to about sexual immorality by congressmen with their flies open for far too long. We’ve been scolded about business ethics by senators who bend rules for Wall Street way too often. We are tired of people who get their votes bought off telling the rest of us that we don’t deserve a decent standard of living.
Jesus was not a politician, so any politician who says he’s following in his footsteps should be beaten with every Bible he’s ever sworn an oath on.
Hey politicians: Your job … your only job … is to represent us. So we tell you what’s right and wrong, not the other way around. Got it?
Can you believe these guys?
They’ll keep at it, though, because Americans confuse moral leadership with political leadership. They’re not the same thing. A politician’s job is to get things done: He makes deals and coalitions, he compromises, he does the best he can with the situation he’s given. Political leadership is almost always morally compromised because in politics something is better than nothing. You need to deliver something to the people who voted for you.
A moral leader, on the other hand, gives us a vision of a better world — a world we have to sacrifice for. A moral leader inspires by example: He doesn’t deliver something to the people who follow him, he convinces them to commit what they already have to the greater good. Moral leaders are indispensable, and we have too few of them … but they can’t be political leaders. A political leader has to win votes; a moral leader has to transcend politics. You can’t do both at once.
As long as our politicians pretend to be moral leaders … and as long as we reward them for grandstanding when they should be shutting up, keeping their heads down, and writing legislation … we’ll get a Congress, and a presidential field, like this one, which thinks its job is to correct our moral failings rather than run our government effectively.
But a free society is precisely one which doesn’t look to the government to tell it the difference between right and wrong. And a good thing, too, looking at the government we have.
Politics is filled with moral midgets. That’s why they’re politicians, and why they need strict ethics requirements. It’s time we stop looking to them for morality and insisted they get back to work.
Benjamin Wachs writes for Messenger Post Media in New York and is the editor of Fiction365.com. Email him at Benjamin@Ficton365.com.