Politicians have made it a habit to parade their families around proudly on the campaign trail. In an arena full of sexual scandal and relationship turmoil politicians who can claim families who are still “together” have been met with praise. But does a politician’s family and marital status really indicate if they’re qualified to lead?
For many years, it did. Scandals of infidelity and divorced were the nails in campaign coffins for many electoral hopefuls. However, on December 10th during one of the latest GOP Debates a new page was turned for both the American public and its political world.
Since the politician’s martial status is more important than issues such as national debt or global warming questions inevitably came up with regards to the question of marriage. Governor Rick Perry argued that marital fidelity should be a determining factor in voter’s minds: “If you cheat on your wife, you’ll cheat on your business partner.”
Then came Senator Rick Santorum, who bested all the candidates with seven children from his 21-year marriage, though Romney tried to compete by lumping children with grandchildren: “I have quite a few of them, 16.” Ron Paul, in his charming way, won points for valiantly changing the subject. “What about our oath of office? That’s what really gets to me!”
All of it was, of course, a build-up to Gingrich, whose marriage history looks like the grand finale of a fireworks display, complete with sparklers, black snakes and Roman candles. But if anyone thought Gingrich would go up in flames over this character test, they were sorely disappointed. Gingrich poured cold, quenching water on the question, and it ended up fizzling flatly. He granted everyone the right to ask every single question, and render judgement on its respective answers. Then proceeded to admit to his mistakes, went to God for forgiveness and sought reconciliation. Putting a neat bow on top he added, “I’m a 68-year-old grandfather.”
Romney continued to poke at the burning embers of the question, trying to reignite the issue. His ads, and the appearance of his wife on the trail, are meant to set himself up as the “constant” one, a foil to Gingrich’s foibles. But it’s too late and the issue drops fairly flatly for the rest of the night.
If you are a fan of Gingrich or not he is a conservative favorite and this new stance is both a push forward and a representation of the sentiments of the country which he is running to lead. The pain of divorce touches so many in America today that the happy, “complete,” families which politicians parade around are beginning to seem more and more the exception and less the norm. An ideal which is beginning to look glaringly fake. Despite what those politicians may say about the “sanctity of marriage” and the “luxury of both parents” the fact remains that tens of thousands of parents raise well adjusted, happy, and stable children who just happen to come from divorced households.
So the question remains, does anyone today really believe that divorce does such irreparable damage to a person’s moral fiber that they are unfit to lead our country?