Regardless of your political coloring, this election, Republicans face a huge problem: hypocrisy. They have consistently campaigned on “family values” and “morality,” and yet the Foley scandal undermines this basic message. There isn’t a politician in the country who’d defend pedophilia, and I have no doubt that many conservatives must find the idea of a gay pedophile absolutely repugnant.
While Mark Foley is an isolated case of gay pedophilia, the issue is not only that Republican leadership knew and didn’t expose him, the issue is that they didn’t remove him from the leadership of the House Caucus on Missing and Exploited Children. While he is an expert on sexual predators and how they work, it would be against his interest to instigate effective measures to stop such behavior. They could have removed him quietly, without creating a scandal. They could have provided him with adult, female pages. They could have monitored him more closely-heck, they could have studied his behavior to gain insight on sexual predation and pedophiles!
Instead, they ignored his behavior. And that is a huge fault of congressional Republican leadership. The whole “they knew and they didn’t do anything about it” talking point, I think, misses the point. It reduces their part of the story to “they didn’t tattle,” which trivializes their inaction. This case may be an exception, but the potential problem that should be highlighted is the soundness of GOP leadership choices.
Couple that with Bush’s plummeting approval rating, Iraq, Katrina, the economy, oil prices (though people don’t always see how Bush benefits from high oil prices, tax cuts for SUV owners, and subsidies for oil companies), and our blatantly partisan system, and you can see how the Democrats are poised to take over the Senate.
I think that our country’s black-and-white politics are really a shame, because we shouldn’t have to chose between fascism and however far right the Democrats have been dragged. But the fact is, they are the only people who occasionally check/balance Bush’s power, and his power needs some major checking.
As I see it, postmodernism is an effective way to counter black-and-white political framing and to evaluate something. Be honest about your biases and factor them into your “objective truth,” although there is no such thing. Groups may have standard tendencies but they’re rarely homogenous, though package morality deals are much easier to digest and reproduce.
Take Mark Foley. Foley is a Republican, therefore he is qualified to be in charge of a committee, and will therefore need pages. Postmodernism might argue, Mark Foley is a Republican and a gay pedophile (and we, the leaders of the GOP, recognize this). Therefore, putting Mark Foley in charge of missing and exploited children is a bad idea. Apparently, Republican leadership isn’t inclined to think like that.
While we, as citizens, have a right and even a responsibility to think about individual issues, and see the gray, our political choices have been reduced to “Pepsi or Coke,” as one political scientist put it. While I wish that generic (read: independent) was a viable option, when Pepsi’s the only alternative to Coke and you acknowledge that Coke isn’t cutting it, you’ve got to chose Pepsi.
Bethany Quinn is a senior majoring in Latin American studies and photography. She may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.