I listen everyday to my colleagues talking about the Clinton/Lewinsky affair. Most of them seem to think that Clinton’s immorality is enough to oust him from office by itself. Most seem to forget that it is Clinton’s lying about the affair under oath that will hang him if anything does. I believe they (and most of the American public) are confusing the two issues. I believe the American public is being far too judgmental about a person’s private life and holding Clinton to an impossibly high moral standard. I believe the American public is being their own stupid selves again. And I believe it’s not their fault….
Our country was founded and settled by Puritans, revolutionaries, and deeply religious types. The ensuing undercurrent of morality (or expected morality) in our country is more of a riptide, pulling under its waves of judgement the people we place on pedestals. It is for this very reason that I will never run for public office. My slate is as clean as they come, but I will NEVER subject myself to that kind of public scrutiny. My private life is my private life and that is how I want it to stay. As a teacher in a staunchly conservative small town in Northern Michigan, I can barely stand the small town magnifying glass of rumor and nosiness that I already am subject to. I keep my nose clean, unlist my number, and live my life as *I* want to live it, not as others dictate.
It is unfortunate that in America we have such a ridiculous moral turpitude. I firmly believe that *good* people are purposely deterred from running for public office by the very nature of our American public office system. It also seems that whenever someone with a decent and clean nature does run for office, they are beaten out by some sleazy ad campaign or shouted out by someone with a morally corrupt agenda. It’s no wonder people often say, “There are no honest politicians.”
So I sit and think about Clinton and I ask myself, “Should he be impeached?” The answer I’ve landed on seems to be, “absolutely not.” What Clinton did was certainly disgusting and immoral, but those are not impeachable offenses. Clinton did not violate the Constitution of our United States in any way that I can see. The Starr Report makes reference to many ill-doings by our President, but not one of them is an offense to our country’s most democratic document. If we hanged every President for a breach of immorality, we’d be on President number 400+, not 40+ and our country would be the laughing stock of the world…
Which brings me to another point. The vast majority of the world believes that Clinton did very little that is impeachable. They point to the American naivete that we’ve had for centuries and I think, perhaps maybe it’s too late. Maybe we are *already* the laughing stock of the world. Just because we have the strongest economy in the world doesn’t mean that we are always correct. I think perhaps that Americans *are* naive. I see evidence of it every day in my classroom. My students can’t even locate the USA on a globe, let alone other countries. They don’t watch the news because it’s “boring.” They don’t have any idea that the Asian economy is in turmoil and that over 50% of the world’s population is non-caucasian. They certainly don’t know that English is *not* the most-spoken language in the world. These are my students. Their parents are even worse. Most can’t see beyond their own backyard. Some haven’t ever left Michigan and the vast majority have never left the continent of North America. And these are “typical” people, some educated, most not. So when I tell my Civics class that Clinton has done nothing legally wrong according to the Constitution, it goes right over their heads. Instead they parrot what their parents have said and believe it as gospel. Naive? Yes. Their fault? No.
My brother (the grand poobah of WebDesign, Cameron) and I were raised overseas in several different countries and an American territory. We spoke different languages and were immersed into diverse cultures. Our parents were highly educated and liberal and taught us values according to the society we happened to be living in, not according to a Bible or Koran or the television. I’ve arrived at my own values by introspection and learning, not by design. I believe Cameron is the same way. It is our upbringing that causes me to have a very “European” or “Non-American” viewpoint on the Clinton issue. We elected Clinton to run our country, our economy, and our military. We did NOT elect him to be a moral standard-bearer by which we measure our societal morality-meter. Anybody who tells you otherwise is only fooling themselves.
I predict that the morality pendulum is swinging far to the right in our society and we will soon re-enter a period of staunch conservativism similar to the McCarthy era of the 1950’s. If we’re not careful, we’ll have another witch-hunt on our hands. This time, however, it won’t be Communism as the evil to fight, but the free-thinking liberals who speak out against issues. The Clinton issue is but the tip of the iceberg in our society’s changing nature. Immersing from the frigid waters will be the frigid thought and cookie-cutter ethics of our future.
Written by Damien Barrett
Posted by Cameron Barrett at September 14, 1998 11:59 PM