When a politician gets caught doing something wrong, he must be held accountable. I’m distressed when I hear someone excuse wrongdoing by saying, “They’re all the same. They all do it. So it doesn’t matter.”
This is wrong. All politicians are not the same. They don’t all take bribes, seduce interns, or imply that the members of the other party should be assassinated.
So why is it so common to hear this pathetic slander that “They all do it.”?
First, because it’s the universal excuse when someone wants to support a politician for his ideology rather than on the reality of what he did. Thus, you hear this most often when a liberal is trying to defend a Democrat or a conservative is trying to defend a Republican.
If you doubt this, start noting how often Fox pundits spout the “everybody does it” mantra whenever a Republican has been caught in a malfeasance and they can’t think up any other excuse.
When the politician’s behavior is indefensible, then the only way to justify continuing to support him is to claim that the alternative is no better. But isn’t it a little hypocritical to tar all politicians with the same brush when it comes to bad behavior but claim that they are entirely different when it comes to policy?
It should be obvious that any group of people are as different, one from the other, in their vices as they are in their virtues. Maybe more so because there are more ways to do wrong than good.
The second reason that people like to say that all politicians are the same is because people are intellectually lazy. You can make a blanket statement about all politicians being crooked and it always sounds right. There’s no need to look up the facts because everyone has heard lots of stories about politicians behaving badly.
But there are thousands of politicians in the country and only a small percentage of them have actually been caught committing any particular sin. Most politicians, outside of obvious lies told during slander campaigns, have never been accused of any serious breach of trust.
If someone is defending their favorite miscreant by saying that “all politicians do that,” you can challenge them to cite a specific case where someone from the other party has done the same thing. Most often, they can’t. What they can do is get angry at you for challenging them. And they will. You can lose a lot of friends that way.
The most intellectually dishonest response to such a challenge is the person who says, “I can’t tell you which other guys do the same thing because they were too clever to get caught. But I’m sure that they all do it, anyway. I’m not naive.”
Sorry, but yes, you are naive if you think I’m going to agree with you when you can’t offer a single fact to back your ideologically-motivated assertion.
If a teenager is caught stealing my car, I’m not going to let him keep it just because someone says, “all the youngsters do that.” Nor am I going to ask the police to let him go because I heard that, “some other kid stole someone else’s car last week.”
So, if a politician is stealing my hard earned tax dollars, either directly by putting it in his own pocket or more subtly by giving it to a crony, don’t expect me to vote for him. Or to respect you if you try to keep him in office.
I’ll never accept the excuse that “his opponent is probably doing it, too.” That’s just waving a big red flag in front of me.