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Jack Kerwick / June 13, 2011

WeinerGate: A Moral Distraction

While Republicans and Democrats generally have a difficult time finding agreement on details, something close to a genuinely bi-partisan consensus over the Anthony Weiner situation seems to be forming.

The recently married New York Congressman who repeatedly insisted on his innocence with respect to the charge that he sent naked photos of his genitalia to young women now admits that he had been lying. Both Democrats and Republicans are calling for him to resign. That Weiner lied and that his sophomoric and dishonorable conduct disgraced the Congress are the standard reasons given in support of this verdict.

Before saying another word, let me assure the reader that Congressman Weiner doesn’t rank high in my affections. From the relatively little that I know about him, in fact, I can safely say that even before this latest revelation concerning his character broke, I found him a most unlikable person. And, of course, his politics I detest.

Still – and perhaps this is a character defect on my part – I find this whole episode of little interest. In fact, if Weiner isn’t guilty of any Congressional Ethics violations, I don’t even think that he should necessarily step down (however appealing the prospect of there being one less Democrat resolved to further undermine what’s left of the Constitutional Republic bequeathed to us by our Founders undoubtedly is).

My reasoning is actually quite simple.

No genuine lover of the kind of liberty that our Constitution was originally designed to secure could possibly look upon Weiner’s most recent actions with a fraction of the contempt that he reserves for, say, most of the agenda of both of our national political parties.

Even had Weiner been making regular visits to brothels, this wouldn’t in the least jeopardize our liberty. On the other hand, politicians who: wage interminable, undeclared wars and deploy the resources in blood and treasure of their constituents toward the end of constructing “democracies” in nations throughout the world; refuse to secure America’s borders against nothing less than an invasion of third-world aliens; favor the interests of the members of some races over those of others under the guises of either justice or diversity (i.e. “affirmative action”); support Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and literally countless other policies designed to redistribute income and wealth from some to others, such politicians do indeed pose the greatest threat to our liberty.

In other words, while my disdain for adultery is second to none, and while I would be the last person to email photos of my naked genitalia to anyone, including my wife, I would rather every one of our elected representatives engage in this sort of conduct than continue their perennial campaign to rid this association that we call America of every last vestige of its civil character. Vis-à-vis my liberty as an American, I infinitely prefer Weiner the sex pervert (or whatever we decide to call him) to Weiner the socialist, for while the former is obsessed with revealing pictures of his private parts, the latter – along with his fellow travelers in politics – is obsessed with compelling an entire country to part with more and more of their freedom in exchange with his vision of “social justice.”

In spite of all of the confused rhetoric to the contrary, in an association of free persons there is no place for political “leaders.” I suppose it is my recognition of this fact that accounts for why I am neither disappointed nor outraged upon hearing of politicians who embroil themselves in sex scandals and the like. The self-governing agents who compose an association of free persons relish in their individuality, their capacity to embark upon the pursuits of their choosing – not in those of which political “leaders” who, being government office-holders, must of necessity compel them to engage.

In selecting representatives, character counts, for sure, but character encompasses quite a bit. The legal or constitutional order that we authorize our elected representatives to safeguard demands, first and foremost, men and women who are resolved to insure that ours remains a nation of laws, not one of policy. To put this point another way, considered just as elected representatives, holders of government office are artificial persons, persons constituted solely by the laws that authorize their existence in the first place. And what this means is that while their personal or “private” character defects might be something of a sign as to how they will govern, they aren’t necessarily so. At any rate, such considerations pale in comparison to whether candidates are committed to truly “upholding” the Constitution and the laws that justify their being as elected representatives.

Any reader disposed to reject my analysis should attend to the following brief thought experiment. Whatever one’s opinion of Ron Paul, no one could or even would think to accuse him of favoring “Big” or unconstitutional government. Now, suppose, contra to reality, Paul had as checkered a marital history as, say, Donald Trump. If, though, Paul was the Republican presidential candidate running against Barack Obama, a man with an apparently stellar marital and familial background, could there really be any doubt as to whom the “moral conservative” would endorse? For all of that, I don’t think that there is hardly a “moral conservative” alive who wouldn’t vote for Donald Trump over Obama, if these were his only two choices.

Sex scandals of the sort at the center of which Weiner currently finds himself distract us from the real immorality of which every lover of liberty should have the utmost concern: the disregard, and even disdain, that our elected representatives have for the Constitution that they have pledged to preserve.

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