Leaders of our society are held to higher standards of conduct than the general population due to their positions of leadership or responsibility for the lives of others. Members of the military, police, and our elected officials quickly come to mind.
Along with great responsibility comes accountability for one’s personal conduct and actions. Leadership, responsibility and accountability are inexorably tied together. In our democracy a leader chooses voluntarily to occupy this special position of trust in our society, which requires the very highest standards of personal conduct – without excuses.
As we all know, unfortunately in the Commonwealth of Virginia, both the Governor and Attorney General have committed unacceptable behavior that is repulsive and inexcusable regardless of the social norms at the time of occurrence. Both admitted to doing so only under political duress, and did not disclose these incidents prior to assuming office. In doing so they betrayed our trust and should not have run for public office in the first place, knowing that their past actions would eventually come to light.
Yes, they have apologized. But despite calls for resignation, they have outlasted the news cycle and intend to remain in office in an effort to outrun their infamy. These are elected officials, obligated to serve at a higher moral standard — and who should set the standard for us to emulate.
Our Lieutenant Governor has been accused of sexual misconduct prior to assuming office. If these allegations are substantiated, he has violated our trust, should be held accountable, and is unfit to lead. Let’s be clear — we do not know if he is innocent or guilty of the alleged offenses, but he has lost the confidence of many of those whom he serves including members of his own Party. In many institutions where trust is the highest currency (both in the military and in the private sector) a loss of confidence in a leader’s ability to lead is grounds for removal.
We in the Commonwealth have already set a dangerous precedent by condoning “free rides” for these three “public servants.” These men took an oath of office, vowing to serve the interests of the Commonwealth and Virginians before their own selfish self-interest.
The Governor’s grudging apology and promise to improve race relations is not good enough. In good conscience, both the Governor and Attorney General should have stepped aside long ago and acknowledged that they have lost our confidence in their leadership, violated our special trust, and do not deserve to represent the great Commonwealth of Virginia.
At the end of the day character matters a quality that neither of these three possess. If they will not hold themselves accountable we need to hold the Democratic Party of Virginia at all levels accountable at the ballot box this fall — integrity and accountability is not negotiable.