A nervous ruling class is claiming the private lives of our great and good are not fair game.
But they are fair game. I’ve argued that what people do is evidence we use to judge their character. And character carries across all facets of a person’s life.
What the elite really mean is that their judgement is that people who cheat on their partners can still ‘do the job’.
What they really mean is that Len Brown CAN be judged, but the judgement is ‘meh’.
Either way, they ARE making a judgement on Brown.It’s not that his personal life doesn’t matter, but they don’t think that an affair matters enough.
I happen to agree, but some voters have different standards (even hypocritical ones) and will judge that it does matter.
To prove my point that personal lives are not on principle excluded from politics, let’s imagine that it wasn’t just one affair, but he had three on the go at the same time. Does his personal life matter to his political job? No?
Okay, then let’s imagine one of those women was the wife of his best friend? Does his personal life not matter to his political job? No?
I could keep going; somewhere along the line and still within the bounds of legality, most people are going to hit a point where they will think the personal life indicates a character that can’t do the job, and/or they won’t vote for.
Keeping personal lives separate is vitally important to the power elite because they think they need to maintain their apparent superiority to run the lives of the public. If it is revealed that their lives are as messy, and probably messier, than the public, their moral right is undermined.
I’m not sure this is a good basis from which the power elite ought to lead, because it is so fragile. Maybe we ought to work on the premise that each of us is flawed, especially the ruling class. The public won’t expect too much of them, and they won’t be given too much control over the public.
Appreciating that no one has moral authority is key to avoiding forms of authoritarianism, even in a democracy.