James Leroy Wilson's one-man magazine.

Friday, August 08, 2008

John Edwards Proves Jonathan Edwards Right

A day or two ago, I put up the quote from Jonathan Edwards (the singer, not the 18th century Puritan "sinners in the hands of an angry God" preacher) under the blog name: "He can't even run his own life, I'll be damned if he'll run mine!" Today, deliciously, John Edwards, the man who wanted to be President, proves the point. A woman apparently seduced him and hustled his campaign for some serious dough.

Reports say this all happened in 2006, at the beginning of the Edwards campaign. I don't know if it's karma or subconscious guilt that made his campaign ineffective, but his status as a "major" candidate evaporated in the early primaries. And it raises the question: How could he not have known that this affair would be made public, especially if he won the Democratic nomination?

During the Lewinsky Scandal, much was made of separating Bill Clinton's private life from his public life. This is a rule I would support for politicians - if they, too, understood the difference between the private and the public, such as the difference between a vice and a crime.

But instead, politicians claim they know better than you how you should manage your private affairs, and how to run your life and raise your family. For example, they claim they know better than you:

* where your kids can go to school;
* how you should protect them from intruders;
* when your children are mature enough to drink alcohol;
* what movies they can see, and what video games they can play;
* proper health care for them;
* when and if they should get government-subsidized birth control services;
* if they should be screened for mental health disorders.

But then politicians go and commit adultery. This often tears families apart, and children of prominent adulterers are particularly susceptible to embarrassment and ridicule from peers. But according to the politicians' logic, the behavior of other adults who make decisions regarding their own lives and families is subject to fines and imprisonment, but their own behavior, which is often far worse, should remain "private," protected from the "voyeuristic" media.

My rule of thumb is, the more libertarian positions a candidate takes, the more the "public/private" distinction should be respected. The more totalitarian the politician - the more the politician wants to control your decisions regarding health, finances, and pleasure, the more they should be scrutinized and called out for hypocrisy. If their own personal lives are a mess, why should they get to order the rest of us around?

I didn't follow the Edwards campaign closely, but never got the impression that he was a staunch privacy advocate, civil libertarian, or defender of gun owners, home schoolers, or indeed of any cause supporting personal freedom. Because of this, he deserves what he gets in terms of public shame. Don't fine and jail others for specks in their eyes when you have a log in your own.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous6:31 PM CDT

    Great link to Lysander Spooner with "Vices are not Crimes"! There's one guy who had it exactly right on morality. Well worth reading his other works as well. If only today's radicals were like him. Spooner is the example they SHOULD be following - fervently in defense of individual liberty and against the criminal usurpations of the State instead of promoting with all their fervor further usurpations by the State.