The left-leaning media is having a field day thanks to former White House aide, Rob Porter. Partisan politicking aside, Porter honestly is a typical example of the kind of people who are currently in power in this country, and voters have placed them there. This is not to say that every person in government has something to hide in their personal lives, but it is pointing out the fact that voters have been increasingly more willing to overlook many unsavory details when they cast their ballots.
While the media and the political class are busy focusing on the details of Porter’s situation and making public statements of disapproval, a deeper issue will be left largely unexamined. How did we get to this point as a nation?
It is simple to toss around adages like “power corrupts,” but there are a few clues being offered in the comments from people in Washington who are trying to distance themselves from the Porter situation. While people in politics definitely do exist primarily in the public eye, the fact remains that they still have private lives. People like Sen. Orrin Hatch and White House Chief of Staff John Kelly initially came out making statements defending Porter, which were later back-stepped to commentaries about their knowledge of the man in the workplace.
Tempting as it may be to suggest that these people intentionally overlooked Porter’s alleged history of violence at home, the fact is that they probably were not privy to as many details as some might think, especially in Hatch’s case. Kelly is being called to task for failing to demand Porter’s dismissal as soon as he found out about the allegations, but it’s possible that the public will never know when that was. No matter what, the fact remains that both Hatch and Kelly measured the character of Porter solely on their personal and professional experiences with him – not his private life.
One statement from White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders is particularly telling: “The American people knew this and voted for the president, and we feel like we’re ready to move forward in that process.” Sanders stated this in December when the press was focused on allegations of inappropriate behavior toward multiple women were surfacing against President Trump. Indeed, the public did decide that crass (misogynistic?) behavior could be overlooked when Trump won the presidency. Since then, the administration has been moving from one scandal to the next, and Porter just happens to be the latest chapter.
The bottom line is that U.S. voters have lowered the bar on acceptable behavior for their leaders since our nation began. Neither side of the aisle has managed to hold the high ground, and the only reason why Republicans are currently making most of the headlines for their misdeeds is because they are currently holding the majority in office. While the Trump administration may go down in history as an important point on the timeline tracking the degree of morally questionable behavior the voters have tolerated in their leaders, that is all it will be. It’s highly unlikely that the public will suddenly turn around, and start demanding higher standards from anyone. Perhaps the real question should be whether or not there ever will be a break point – will the public ever reach the point where they will not vote for someone because of defects in their character?
Image: By AgnosticPreachersKid (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons