Star Parker

Certainly we've not heard the last about the John Edwards scandal. Despite the former presidential candidate's public statements of remorse, there remains far too much that doesn't add up.

For instance, we're being asked to swallow a bizarre story that a member of his campaign staff is the father of Edwards' mistress's child. Either John Edwards is not done lying to us or we don't fully appreciate the scope of the behind-the-scenes moral depravity of his self-righteous campaign.

Let's assume for the moment that no legal infractions occurred and that Edwards' lapses were exclusively moral. What is the relevance of this behavior to his qualifications as a political leader and possible president?

Scandals in the private lives of politicians are, sadly, hardly rare. There is a line of reasoning that suggests it's prudish to see them as relevant to the man's fitness for his job.

As put in a recent op-ed by a university journalism professor: "history is full of courageous leaders who in their private lives were terrible and abusive spouses and parents -- depressives, drunks, bullies. Individuals have a way of partitioning their lives, handling one set of duties commendably and another abysmally."

I would argue that for liberals, typified by John Edwards, such partitioning of private from the public is highly unlikely, if not impossible.

Why? Because to be this kind of liberal you've got to stand traditional morality on its head.

Traditional morality is a bottom-up process. It starts at the individual level. The Ten Commandments are addressed to "thou," not "We the People." It begins with individuals taking personal responsibility for the moral tone of their own lives and the social reality that results is the collective product of that individual behavior.

Traditional guidelines are to love our neighbor, our brother. Not mankind. The focus is specific and individual, not vague and abstract.

But liberal politics are top-down. Despite the pretense about being driven by caring about people, unique individuals are at the end of the liberal food chain. Liberal politicians make broad pronouncements about our "social" problems and propose social engineering programs that will allegedly fix them.

Candidate John Edwards called poverty "the great moral issue of our time." And his antidote for solving this moral crisis was massive government programs with the modest objective of eradicating poverty in 30 years.


Star Parker

Star Parker is founder and president of CURE, the Center for Urban Renewal and Education, a 501c3 think tank which explores and promotes market based public policy to fight poverty, as well as author of the newly revised Uncle Sam's Plantation: How Big Government Enslaves America's Poor and What We Can do About It.