The Hypocrisy Of It All
I have previously blogged about the entitled political class who act as if there is one set of rules for themselves and another for the public. Ted Cruz is the latest politician to be tone deaf. He follows in the footsteps of a variety of public figures who had no idea how the optics looked to the general public when they decided to engage in self-serving personal activities all the while asking their constituents to stay home and shelter in place during the pandemic.
Earlier in the week, Cruz abandoned his home state of Texas for a tropical vacation in Cancun in the middle of travel warnings due to the spread of the coronavirus. Moreover, he left during the recent storms that cut off power to millions of Texans and difficulty accessing clean water. What was he thinking? Perhaps that’s the problem; he wasn’t thinking about the consequences of his action. The question now is whether his decision will hurt him in the eyes of the Texas public.
At first, Cruz blamed his daughters saying they wanted to get away since it was cold and the schools were closed. In other words, they felt entitled to treatment others could not get. Wanting to be a good dad he flew them down but later admitted it was a family trip and they were supposed to be there through the weekend. We can add being dishonest to his latest character flaws.
Cruz since realized he had made a mistake and returned to Houston yesterday, calling the decision to leave his state during the crisis a “mistake.” He expressed to reporters regret at his decision-making but said he was trying to balance his duties as a lawmaker and being a good father. Nowhere in his decision-making process was the motivation to serve as a role model for Texans going through the coronavirus ordeal.
This isn’t the first time that politicians have made mistakes in judgment during the pandemic. California Governor, Gavin Newsome, was caught having dinner with a group of friends at the upscale restaurant, The French Laundry, in Napa Valley. He soon realized the optics weren’t good and apologized for his bad judgment during the time Californians were being asked to stay at home and certainly not go to a crowded restaurant.
Steve Adler, the mayor of Austin, Texas, was seen heading to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, on a private jet after hosting a wedding for 20 while people in his state weighed whether it's safe to go to work or the grocery store. He humbly asked citizens to forgive his decision that was borne of his heart and not his head.
Then there is the Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt, who faced backlash after tweeting that he had taken his family to a "packed" restaurant in March—a day before announcing a state of emergency.
The hypocrisy of it all screams out for ethical oversight that is meaningful. Politicians play lip service to their ethical responsibilities, but it’s more for show than to demonstrate they know the difference between right and wrong. These examples make it clear that isn’t the case.
Politicians are good at apologizing after they get caught. What they need to do is cut out the hypocrisy and act responsibility. This should start by asking themselves: How would I feel if my decision made the front page the newspapers tomorrow. Would I proud to defend it? In other words, think of the public first and their self-interests second.
Posted by Dr. Steven Mintz, aka Ethics Sage, on February 19, 2021. You can sign up for his newsletter and learn more about his activities at: https://www.stevenmintzethics.com/. Follow him on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/StevenMintzEthics and on Twitter at: https://twitter.com/ethicssage.