So, I’ve posted my thoughts on Mitt Romney before, explaining why I don’t think his religious beliefs should be held against him or be an issue in this campaign. And now here we have another irrelevant distraction, in my opinion. I thought this was all done with months ago, but one of my Facebook friends posted the above picture this morning, and several of her friends jumped in and they were all condemning him for this particular incident, so I thought I’d get my thoughts donwn.
First, as many people who know me know, I am firmly, in some cases radically, committed to GBLT rights. I support the right to same-sex marriage (I also support polygamy), I support the right for homosexuals to serve openly in the military and the right to adopt children, and be free from discrimination in the workplace. I’m also for the rights of the transgendered to get surgery and then legally be considered whatever gender they’ve switched to. And I definitely don’t like bullying, for whatever reason it’s done. However, this thing makes me uncomfortable, just on a matter of principle.
Are we really going to start evaluating Presidential candidates, or other politicians, based on High School now? HIGH SCHOOL?!?
Well, dang, why stop there?!? Let’s check out what politicians were doing in Junior High/Middle School (when President Obama admitted to pushing a girl in class) and Elementary school! Why the frak not?!? It’s all fair game now, right?
I mean, this is hard to talk about for me, as I did on my FB page when the story first broke, because there’s no way to avoid seeming to diminish what he did. Holding down a kid and cutting his hair is bad. That doesn’t sound like something that I would enjoy. If you catch a teenager doing that today, he or she should be punished. But in this case, we are evaluating whether or not a man is qualified to be President of The United States, and some folks want to make that judgment based on something he did almost 50 years ago?!? He’s 65 years old, but because of this incident at 17 he’s labeled a “psychopath” by the creator of the above picture? That just seems unfair to me.
It would be one thing if this were a sign of a lifelong pattern of behavior, but no one has suggested it is, or brought up any other incidences of violence or physical harassment against anyone in the past 48 years of Romney’s life. Now, I know this is going to sound like the Boys Will Be Boys excuse but, c’mon, many teenagers do dumb stuff sometimes. That’s a fact. And it doesn’t always indicate who they are or, more importantly, whom they will always be. I’d hate to be judged now, for crap I did when I was around that age. I was occasionally shoplifting from stores when I was 17 (& older). Should I be branded a thief for the rest of my life? I would never dream of doing that now. I’ll even confess that when I was in 7th grade I distinctly remember pulling a girls’ hair, by her ponytail. I have no idea why I did it, or what was going through my mind at the time. But I did it. And that’s just what I remember. I wouldn’t be completely shocked if someone else from my childhood/teenage years could bring up some other incident that I just don’t remember now. Does that disqualify me from public office? If I were running for something, should I have to defend myself now? The bottom line is that’s not who I am now, or in my adult life. You can go back and ask all the women I’ve worked with, worked for, dated, and been friends with during the past 20 years and I guarantee that none of them will accuse me of any type of violence or harassment, so isn’t that enough? I also remember making fun of mentally retarded kids at my school. Something else I wouldn’t dream of doing today.
And, for the record, when it comes to bad behavior as a teenager, I was far more often the victim than the perpetrator. I was the nerd who got threatened and hit and made fun of by other kids (my Jr. High nickname was Bootsy, because of my big feet), so I’m not being insensitive. But if the kid who once pulled my shorts down in gym class when I was 15 were running for President, or any other office, today, I would not come forward to tell that story and try to hold that against him now, either. I’d hope, for his sake, that he grew out of that type of behavior a long time ago.
Seriously, the whole digging into politicians private lives thing has gotten way out of hand already. Most of the time, I think it’s nobody’s business unless said politician chooses to make personal behavior an issue. If someone like Newt Gingrich wants to spout off about family values then his multiple marriages and adultery is relevant. Same with Sarah Palin, promoting abstinence-only programs in her state, while her teenage daughter was out getting knocked up by a self-described redneck. But there should be some discretion here. We don’t need to trot out everyone’s entire past and hold it up to a microscope, unless we expect no one but lifelong Saints to ever run for public office.
Sadly, I actually think that this sort of thing is just going to get worse in the future. We’ve now entered an age where a generation is growing up with the internet, where they willfully document their life online, in a way that I never could have even dreamed off. I have friends whose young teenage children are on Facebook and/or Twitter, Instagram, and other sites and services. I can’t even imagine what effect that will have on the future. I can check my Facebook timeline and go all the way back to August 2007 when I first signed up. It’s an interesting snapshot of my online life. I can’t imagine what I’d see if there’d been a Facebook when I was in High School, and I could go all the back and see what I was posting about at 14, and what my friends at the time were saying and doing. What pictures or groups would I have “Liked”, what links would I have posted, and how could all of this affect my future? That 17 year old girl posting pictures of herself flashing her boobs in her bathroom mirror might come to regret that in 40 years when she’s nominated for the US Supreme Court and someone pulls out those pics during her Senate confirmation hearings.
Anyway, back to Romney. As I said before, there are plenty of reasons not to vote for him. And that’s based on his public record as Governor and the public positions he’s taken since then, especially the contradictions. Specifically on the issue of gay rights, he’s pretty clear in that he opposes same-sex marriage (after seeming to support it when running for Governor) and opposed the appeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. If you support gay rights, THAT is enough reason to oppose him, there’s no need to dig up a stupid High School incident to paint him as a “gay basher”, too.
Just my opinion.