Indiana Daily Student

OPINION: Do political scandals even matter anymore?

Ask yourself a question: what would it take for a candidate to lose my vote?

What is your dealbreaker? Could you vote for a candidate who may have killed hundreds of dogs? Or an anti-abortion candidate who may have paid for his ex-girlfriend’s abortion? How about someone who has allegedly committed sexual assault? Or someone who has in the past said approving things about Nazis?

These aren’t meaningless questions. All these hypotheticals will either be on ballots this November or in 2024.

It was announced this past week that U.S. Senate candidate Mehmet Oz allegedly oversaw the deaths of over 300 dogs from 1989 to 2010 in the process of doing experimental research at the Columbia University Institute of Comparative Medicine.

But Oz was largely overshadowed by allegations that Georgia Senate candidate Herschel Walker paid for his former girlfriend’s abortion in 2009, despite being a strict opponent of abortion. To make matters worse, Walker’s son, conservative gremlin Christian Walker, publicly criticized his father for essentially being an absentee parent and an alleged domestic abuser.

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While I was witnessing all of this drama this week, a question kept gnawing at me: does any of this matter? Are they going to lose votes over this?

It’s too soon to tell, but I personally see no reason why they would lose any votes. After all, the Walker campaign announced that after these allegations broke, Walker raised over $500,000 in less than a day, a record for the campaign.

And if you’re someone who seriously believes John Fetterman, Oz’s opponent in the Senate race in Pennsylvania, is a radical socialist determined to establish the Soviet Republic of Pennsylvania or something, why would some puppies get in the way of preventing that from happening?

Scandals used to matter, or, at any rate, seemed to matter. Bill Clinton got away with everything, but Al Franken was forced to resign from being a Senator in disgrace. So, maybe scandals sometimes matter?

They certainly don’t matter for Donald Trump. In Trump’s own words, he could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody, and he wouldn’t lose any votes. And I believe that’s true. Numerous sexual assault allegations, Trump’s history of racism, an insurrection – none of this has ever seemed to bother a Trump supporter.

So far, I’ve mostly focused on Republican voters, but Democratic voters should face these questions as well. As I was considering these questions I had to own up to some guilt: I voted for Joe Biden despite his own pitfalls.

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Others, I assume, voted the same way with the same knowledge. During the 2020 election, nothing he did seemed to matter to me – I wanted Donald Trump to lose, by any means necessary. Nothing else mattered; not Biden’s sexual assault allegations, not his friendship with segregationists in the 1970s, not his mediocre policy proposals, nothing. Trump had to lose.

I sound like a liberal with no principles, and maybe I was two years ago. I know today that I’m uncertain whether I could bring myself to vote for Biden again.

I’ve come to realize that most political scandals don’t seem to matter anymore. Our “democracy” gives us two horrible candidates with walk-in closets full of skeletons and asks us which one we want to oppress us for the next four years.

This is no democracy! Americans need to realize that this country is a dictatorship of the unaccountable wealthy. The rich do what they want with impunity in this country and then call on us to vote for the “lesser evil.”

In Arizona, the Republicans have put up Blake Masters as their Senate candidate, a man who wrote fascistic essays in college featuring approving quotes from Nazi war criminals. He hasn’t grown too much as a person since then. Ah, but this is a democracy! Vote for his opponent, Mark Kelly, the moderate.

It is like asking what you would prefer to eat: a plain cheese sandwich, or sand.

I, for one, am tired of eating plain cheese sandwiches. A true democracy would offer us more than just sand as an alternative.

Jared Quigg (he/him) is a junior studying journalism and political science.  

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