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Political Transparency: Should Our Politicians Have Privacy?

Clara Hollowgrass

How much privacy should politicians actually have? As one attempts to answer this question, a common initial response is that politicians should have the same amount of privacy as anyone else in the world. However, the more thought applied to this question, it becomes apparent that the lives of politicians should be transparent. The public needs to know what their elected officials are up to and how they are conducting business, especially in terms of finances and work related issues. Many feel that this is unfair to politicians, but in the past couple of years the behavior of the Trump administration has made many question their thoughts on transparency.

The primary reason for requiring political transparency is the fact that politicians sign up for a lack of privacy when they decide to go into politics. Politicians can’t start their career without understanding that they will be in the public eye. This is proven time and time again, as media and news coverage becomes more accessible. Take former Vice President Dick Cheney for example: Cheney was known to be a very private man, and yet there is a movie made about his life, Vice, which features private details about Cheney and his family. His life was private while in office, so his actions weren’t well know to the general public. The other thing to note about  Cheney and his secrecy is that his actions regarding foreign policy and military operations have affected the nation for decades. Would these actions have been allowed if there had been a clearer demand for transparency at the time?

The public needs to know what their elected officials are up to and how they are conducting business.

When a politician participates in shady and illegal dealings, they should be called out on it. This sounds straightforward enough, but it is difficult to know where the line is and when it is being crossed. Family affairs should be kept away from the mainstream media, while finances and business dealings should receive more light. However, this is not a black and white issue. For instance, the dealings between President Trump, Michael Cohen, and Stormy Daniels last summer could be classified under multiple categories, but when do issues like this become too personal? Not only for the people involved, but the politicians’ families?

Ultimately, these politicians are the ones that need to be held responsible for the decisions they make. So, if they want to protect their families and reputations, they should act within the limits of the law.

Transparency with finances and politics benefit the constituents that these politicians represent, but family members should not have to suffer from the publics’ glare or the relentless attention of the media.