Mistakes and sheer stubbornness

The manner in which public figures behave is one of the biggest, most vehemently discussed topics on the public debate agenda at the present time. The debate, however, is not about the magnitude of their transgressions or their failure to adhere to zoning laws, nor is it about the amount of time it takes for fines to be imposed or contested. The issue at hand is about how a public figure, the virtuous man, sees his role in society: as a privilege or as a duty, as mere routine or as a paradigm? Politicians who infringe the law in some small way normally invoke ignorance of the technical details of the law or stress their honorable past. Citizens, however, demand from their parliamentarians and ministers more that just an unblemished past – they need them to set an example with their behavior and have an honorable presence. They will tolerate small transgressions, but they will not tolerate a public figure’s loyalty to unworthy associates. Public figures are judged by the example they set. They exercise authority but their behavior is also under constant scrutiny. To err is human and it is also forgivable, but sheer stubbornness is not.

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