Spitzer, Sex and Sustainability

A weblink I’ll assume you DON’T need this morning is one taking you to more stories about New York’s now former Governor Spitzer resigning due to the discovery of his use of prostitutes.

What I imagine some of us could use instead is a broader perspective. These scandals are such a bummer, laying waste to public trust and creating more cynicism about all things governmental. We need a way out of these scandals. We need elected officials who can sustain themselves, and not crash and burn like Mr. Spitzer.

How about the idea of us electing our officials more carefully in the first place? While people’s sex lives will never be transparent to us (nor should they be), how they handle power and privilege is something we definitely can observe. Observe as in actions, not listen to as in speeches.

Do they show discipline and self-control in their behavior? Or do they act as if more is always better? Do they admit being wrong, even in small things, or always place blame outside themselves? Where do we see conscience operating in their lives? Most crucial in my view: Do their actions work more for the greater good or for their personal gain? It seems to me that ambition and aggression end up being the de facto requirements for elected office — when some humility and a strong record of (un-self-serving) public service might be some better criteria. Mr. Spitzer had plenty of ambition and aggression, but less humility and self-control.

For our own parts, i.e. the public, we need to stop looking to other people’s sex lives to supply our headlines and our entertainment. Back when I was an alcohol and drug counselor, we called this kind of obsession ‘defocusing’. Who goes to prostitutes is, pardon me, bullshit, compared to who is doing what to reduce the emissions that drive global warming.


1 Response to “Spitzer, Sex and Sustainability”

  1. 1 amazingdrx March 13, 2008 at 7:11 pm

    Yep Alison, more distraction, another sex scandal. Meanwhile the economy and environment are in crisis stage.

    Barack seems to have a handle on personal melt down issues. He seems steady in any crisis. Hillary and McCain both seem quite shakey.

    Hillary having problems with the financial wheeling and dealing Bill has been engaging in. And McCain ready to fly off the handle at any moment. Or use his power to cozy up to potential sex scandal himself.

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