Zach Fadorsen and Emily Olesh
Zach: In the world today it feels as if everything we do is being monitored and recorded. Information currently spreads faster than ever before. We live in time where technology makes it possible to share news, pictures, and videos practically instantaneously. The speed at which information spreads definitely has its benefits, however there are a few downfalls. Any mistakes we make can be captured and shared around the world in a moment’s notice. This may be just an annoyance for us, but for politicians this presents a major problem.
Politicians are held to a higher standard than your average citizen. They are constantly being followed around by cameras and microphones tracking and recording everything they do and say just waiting for them to slip up. Is this fair? Probably not, after all who would want to have to watch everything they do and say fearing being nationally shamed? However politicians are grown men and women who have made the choice to pursue a political career and embrace the lifestyle that comes along with it. The fact that politicians are held to a higher standard just comes with the territory. The problem is that there are several cases, too many cases, of a political official misbehaving and being caught red-handed. Most recently, Toronto’s Mayor Rob Ford.
Emily: Like you said, there have been a lot of politicians who have taken advantage of their use of power. Recently, the mayor of Toronto, Rob Ford, confessed his use of crack cocaine, as well as binge drinking over the past year.
In a recent story in the The Star, Ford confessed his sorrow to the city of Toronto for his use of crack cocaine, and the lies he told relating to it. In the speech, Ford states he would do anything to change the past, however, the city must move forward. He emphasized that the mistakes he made will ‘never, ever’ happen again. He personally apologized to his family, his staff and his close peers, as well as the residents of Toronto. He clearly stated that he will continue his work as mayor and will work hard to earn back the trust and respect of the city and it’s residents.
“I hope, I hope that nobody, that nobody has to go through what I have gone through. I know what I did was wrong and admitting it was the most difficult and embarrassing thing that I have ever had to do,” Ford stated.
Despite the numerous apologies, Ford will need to make an extreme effort to gain back the trust and respect of such a huge, well known city. In my opinion, he can’t simply state ‘we must move on’, but instead, he should have addressed how he will do better as a mayor and the different steps he is going to take, whether it’s attending rehab, seeking guidance of other leaders, or even taking actions such as attending more community events and becoming more involved. Another shocking statement that he made was that he still plans on running for reelection next October. With that said, Ford needs to make huge, noticeable and affective changes to his reputation to even have chance at this.
Zach: Mayor Ford is a very unique case in the sense that he wasn’t necessarily caught red handed but decided to admit it to the public. It seems the norm is that when a politician is accused of doing something wrong they deny it until there is hard evidence and then we get the apology and the remorse. However Rob Ford decided to skip right to the apology and remorse. The honesty is refreshing, but no amount of honesty is going to make up for a mayor of a major city like Toronto admitting that he has smoked crack in one of his drunken stupors.
The fact that Rob Ford smoked crack is the attention getter. When you read his confession again you see that he says stupors. The plurality of his drunken stupors should gain as much attention as his admission to smoking crack. Mistakes are made by everyone, but when these mistakes become repeated over and over again they become habit. Rob Ford admitted to getting so drunk so many times he can’t actually recall when he smoked crack he just has an idea of the time frame.
Emily: In an article in Bloomberg Businessweek, it is apparent that the city of Toronto is weary of Ford’s decisions and his decision to continue on as mayor. The article displays some statistics about Toronto under Mayor Ford.
To the residents of Toronto, it seems they should have seen some sort of falling out developing with the mayor. For him to be so well liked among the city, then to begin the decrease downhill, it seems like the citizens should have realized a negative action approaching. Also in this article, which really stands out, is a phone call that Ford had that was leaked to the press. In the phone call, he is yelling and screaming to someone about ‘murdering’ and ‘ripping his head off’, aimed at someone who bashed him in the press. Some reacted to the phone call simply stating that he ‘needs some help’. This is another factor that has put Ford in the negative spotlight.
The phone call also makes Ford look suspicious. Obviously, he was angry that news had been leaked, but not only was he using foul language and intense threats towards the press, it seemed as if he was scared his secret would leak. Unfortunately for him, it was too late.
Against the downfalls that Ford has been facing, in another interview with Conrad Black’s show, The Zoomer, Ford shows some effort towards convincing people that he is changing. He states that he will do a urine test right then and there to test for alcohol and drugs. Although that was unnecessary, it does show that Ford is willing to make changes and prove whatever he can to his city. Black, who said he is still behind Ford for the 2014 election, gave Ford some advice: “He should be more careful, including in the avoidance of inflammatory malapropisms.”
Rob Ford, Mayor of Toronto
Zach: Rob Ford is the latest politician to get publicity for misbehaving, but he is far from the the only one. Recently John Edwards was caught having an affair, and it was later discovered that he had a secret love child with his mistress. Even further back was the well publicized scandal involving Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky, that ultimately led to the impeachment of President Clinton. These are two examples of politicians demonstrating questionable character in the form of an extramarital affair.
Politicians have also been caught several times using their power in the wrong ways. One example would be William Jefferson’s corruption case which led to a thirteen year prison sentence. Another great example of corruption would be Rob Blagojevich trying to sell his United States senate seat. The famous example would be Richard Nixon’s Watergate fiasco. The scandal eventually forced President Nixon to resign. Watergate was very well publicized and was later turned into a movie.
What do these other cases of corruption and scandals have to do with Rob Ford? These serve as a reminder for how long scandals and corruption have become commonplace in American politics today. Our politicians have consistently not lived up to the high moral standards that accompany their jobs.
John EdwardsRob Blagojevich
Emily: Abuses in power are not only seen in the United States. China is experiencing dealing with a past leader who was prominent and well-respected. Bo Xilai is being charged with bribery, embezzlement and abuse of power and faced court this past summer. The unraveling began when Bo’s wife poisoned a British businessman and was a cover up for Bo. He covered up the murder and is facing the consequences. Xinhua, a Chinese news source commented on the incident stating:
“Bo took the advantage of his position as a civil servant to seek gains for others, as well as accepted bribes in the form of large amounts of money and property.”
It also explained that Bo abused his political powers which caused the nation to lose respect and trust in him in more than one way.
Another example of abuse in power around the world is the famous acts of Hitler. Although this was not a recent event, it still impacts many people to this day. He began his abuse of power actions by demanding full control over the legislative and executive branches of government and, soon after, other parties were so intimidated that Hitler’s government became the one and only government system in Germany.
The history of Hitler’s rise in power can be expressed within hours and hours of research, stories and pure facts. As many know, throughout the Holocaust, Hitler killed ⅔ of the Jewish population and between eleven and fourteen million people over the span of six years. This abuse in power is tremendous and the results are extreme beyond belief. Although the abuse of power that Hitler demonstrated has not been seen since then, there are still acts of abuse in power around the world on a regular basis.
Zach: Eradicating the entire political system of all the people with poor character is surely impossible. The prevention of lack character in politics starts with the voter. Voters will need to become politically aware. This means knowing what each candidate’s beliefs and agendas are. Increased political awareness will lead to more informed voters who should therefore make better choices on elected officials.
Emily: If citizens understood each official that is being voted for, it would benefit the future of the country or city. Researching the elected official would also help get background information on not only how their political views are structured, but also about their personal likes and interests and their reputation among the people, outside of politics. Politicians know what they are getting into before they run for election. Between social media and word of mouth, they should begin representing themselves in a positive manner before they take the responsibility of leading a town, city or country. Whether it’s viewed as fair or not, their personal lives could easily become the talk of the town within a matter of minutes. Those who don’t know the past are doomed to repeat it. If citizens choose to monitor politics more closely, an appropriate, trustworthy leader who has the confidence and ability to lead and build a positive reputation, will be chosen for the future.