The death of peccadillo politics…
: The real import of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s election is that sins and indiscretions will no longer be the basis on which we elect — no, the basis on which politicians and media think we elect — our leaders.
From this day forward, anyone running for office who’s caught in a past personal misdeed can point to Schwarzenegger and say: See, even after what they said about his past — even after what he admitted — even though this came out before the vote, still, he got elected. Hell, he got a landslide.
The people have spoken. They — no, we — are not as simple- and single-minded as you think. We know that politicians, above all people, are merely human (could there be a more obvious statement?). We don’t discard them because of past sins. That’s not how we select our leaders. We, the people are wiser than that — and if you don’t believe that, then you don’t believe in democracy.
So let this serve as notice to operatives, reporters, and editors (are you listening, LA Times?) that the goal of government and reporting on it is not the gossipy Gotcha! moment.
The goal is telling the people whether the goverment run in their name is run in their interest. The goal is to report whether our leaders are doing a good job.
Bill Clinton did not get thrown out of office but Gray Davis did. Bill Clinton had a sexual scandal. Gray Davis did not. Bill Clinton did a good job running the government. Gray Davis did not. That’s why Clinton stayed and Davis did not. That’s how Schwarzenegger got elected and Davis got recalled.
The moral to this story could not be clearer.
This, fellow citizens, is the dawn of the age of performance politics.