A blogger I admire, Jim Wright, a.k.a. Stonekettle calls it “The Unicorn.” It’s the idea that no one lives up to your standards so you’re not going to vote. There’s no perfect candidate. There never will be. There shouldn’t be. We should not all agree with everything the people we elect do. It’s not meant to be that way. This is not a team sport where we root for our team and back them no matter what. We’re supposed to disagree and verbalize that to our elected representatives when that happens.
Some people take that concept further and think there’s no one you should admire and promote if there are things in their past that may be problematic. I had a small discussion in a comment section of a friend’s post about Ruth Bader Ginsberg. Are there decisions she made that some people don’t agree with, even though they consider themselves liberal? Of course, there are. Again, that’s as it should be. Does that mean we shouldn’t admire her? I think not.
The article that post linked to highlighted her mixed record on prisoner’s rights, indigenous people, and others. I don’t disagree with some of her rulings on prisoners’ rights. The whole point is that these people have committed a CRIME. The problem is an unequal justice system of rich vs. poor, white vs. non-white, and a police force that is more interested in statistics and protecting bad officers than actual justice. Other reasons for the disparity are racism, and cash-strapped counties that will release some criminals, even repeat offenders, because it’s too expensive to keep them in jail, and more often than not, that’s the white male criminals. There’s also the fact that her decisions have to follow law and precedent. It’s not always about right and wrong. A good Supreme Court judge (unlike many of the ones currently sitting on the bench) may have to, at times, go against their own beliefs to follow the letter of the law.
The problem is heroification of anyone. There is no unicorn. There is no perfect candidate, politician, judge, etc. Does that mean we shouldn’t admire them? I don’t believe so. I do believe we need to see the complete picture; their good side and their bad side. George Washington was a great uniter, but he owned and traded in slaves. It’s a dark mark on him as a person as it is on many others of that time. Alexander Hamilton was a great abolitionist, but he too owned several slaves at one time. Pretty much everyone knows about Thomas Jefferson. Benjamin Franklin was problematic as well.
Hopefully, people grow in years and strive to do better; to be better. There was a time in my life when I was more conservative, especially when it came to religion. As I got older and situations made me question what I was taught, I grew more socially liberal. For instance, there was a time when I favored blue laws; that all stores should be closed on Sundays to push people to spend time on their faith. As I got older and met more people, I realized that 1 – not all people see Sunday as a holy day in their week, and 2 – the government has no right to do this. Hopefully, we don’t reach a certain age, close the door on our beliefs, and call it good. We should continue to grow and evolve throughout our lives. Should we only be judged for the negative things in our lives? Or should we be looked at as a whole life, complete with good and bad?
This is not to say there aren’t things that are so heinous they should be overlooked. However, there’s a huge difference between people who are outright cruel and inhumane and those who try to do better, try to make a difference, and try to make the world a better place and sometimes fall short.
Cause if you’re looking for that unicorn, you’re never going to find it.