Monday, March 10, 2008

Politics and Heartbreak

I have midterms to study for, but all I can think about is Eliot Spitzer. When I saw the headline, it felt like hearbreak.

What does it mean to believe in someone you've never met so much that finding out about his moral transgression breaks your heart? For one thing, it means I'm less jaded than I thought I was. Two years of working for the Federal Government and experiencing first-hand the egos, petty power struggles, and hierarchy systems; and another two of working in HIV prevention in Africa, seeing nothing work and hardly anyone notice or care. I thought I was rough enough around the edges. I must've been wrong.

It also says something about electoral politics. It says that through our elected officials, who operate in the public sector on behalf of us, we express our voices. We want to believe in what our representatives are saying and doing because it makes us believe that we can say and do those things. It makes us believe in humanity, and in our ability to come together as a community to build better lives for us and our children. And when one politician who has succeeded so spectacularly in affirming these beliefs falls from grace, it shatters our hopes.

Disillusionment with politics is nothing new. Richard Nixon infamously disillusioned an entire generation of voters. George W. Bush has done it again, more recently. But W. never represented half of the country, the half that voted blue and wore t-shirts with W.'s picture that proclaimed, "Not my President." Spitzer was the voice of the reformer, the underdog, the idealist. The person who believed the world could be different. Now he has let us all down; he has broken our hearts.

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