When Toronto mayor Rob Ford took a leave of absence recently, it seemed years overdue, even if all the news about Ford had only been going on for under six months. Then again, his problems seem to stem back years before he even became mayor. With some of this already known, Americans still have to puzzle how he was even electable. Or perhaps we’re in the same trap when we keep electing politicians who use the same rhetoric and do the same things we don’t want them to do.
The vices of politicians are something we decidedly don’t accept, and yet there seemingly isn’t anyone available who differs from the usual politician mold. And when a politician gets caught doing something wrong, it seems we’re mostly ready to forgive if also ready to vote them out of office. In some cases, it may be a temporary problem that could be fixed so they can come back and finish out their job.
While the above sounds like a good idea, most politicians don’t bother to take leave to address any problems in the fear that their political careers will be over. But if they have some problems on the level of Rob Ford, or even small peccadilloes, will they take it as a new sign to step down if there’s a promise they can come back? It’s all going to depend on how the public feels about it.
Leave of Absence to Take Care of Scandals
What if there was such a thing to allow a governor, a major, or a congressman to take leave of absence to deal with an emerging scandal? We may have to start electing standbys as if choosing an in-waiting runner-up in a beauty pageant. There isn’t anything really wrong with that scenario if the person filling in had the same credentials as the person who was elected. Doing this would also remove the weight of the scandal from the job so real business could get done.
You have to imagine how stressful New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s job was for a time when dealing with his notorious bridge scandal. Even if he’s always gung-ho, scandals absorb far too much time of the politician and take away from their jobs. This goes all the way up to the Presidency where it seems every recent Commander in Chief has to spend an inordinate amount of time dealing with something scandalous in order to make room for the important things.
With leave of absence a normal part of private sector worker jobs to deal with individual problems, how would it translate in the upper ranks of government?
Politicians Getting Serious About Being Clean
Because we seem to have a politician about every week getting caught in a sex scandal or other embarrassing situation, having them get serious about getting their life in order should be by decree of the public. And when based on their prior record, the public may want to decide whether the politician can come back to work before their term is over. Along with an elected assistant, this procedure would work so much better than having to hold a special election for a replacement the public may not really want.
You have to assume that politicians really do want to take the time to get their lives in order. The public isn’t really doing them any favors forcing them to continue to do their jobs when they need several months for rehab or time to work out legal issues. And if it can be taken care of in a few months, there isn’t any reason why they should vacate the job completely if there’s still two years or more left in their term.
In that regard, Ford expects he’ll be back. We’ll have to wait if the U.S. government enacts a similar program for many of the troubled politicians running our country. It’s much easier if they admit they’re heading toward Rob Ford territory and address it so voters can still get the person they elected back later in one piece.