Dear New Yorkers: For your consideration, disgraced politician Anthony Weiner would like to be your mayor. Mr. Weiner, who of course was caught red-handed in an egregious slew of inappropriate circumstances involving suggestive personal photos and messages across social-media platforms, believes your good faith in his ability to change will see him through the election this November. Following in the footsteps of former disgraced political countrymen, Mr. Weiner hopes the malevolent tentacles of his abhorrent past do not fasten themselves to your brains, projecting only his sins into your mind when you hear his name or see his face. Your consideration, without consideration of his personal stigma, is most appreciated.
The question remains: can a disgraced politician return to the forefront of politics successfully while the stain of his or her wrongdoings is still fairly visible? Anthony Weiner accepts your challenge. Weiner, the former member of New York’s 9th District of The House of Representatives, faced great turmoil in June of 2011 when private photos of his genitalia and naked body, intended to be sent privately to a 21 year-old college female, were leaked by blogger Andrew Breitbart and went viral.
The scandal erupted quickly and the media exploded. Weiner initially took to the air and denied the photos were of him, claiming his twitter account had been hacked and that the source of the photos was under investigation. However, only days later Weiner held a press conference in New York admitting that the photos were indeed of him and that he had sent them. The scandal continued, growing more controversial as the politician had initially lied about it. Republicans began to call for Weiner’s immediate resignation. Under scrutiny, several Democrats, including President Obama, suggested it would be best for the Democratic Party if Weiner indeed did resign. He did so officially on June 21st, 2011.
That was two years ago.
On May 21st, 2013 Anthony Weiner officially announced his intent to seek candidacy as Mayor of New York City. In a YouTube video, Weiner presents himself as a morally changed man. The video features his wife, Huma Abedin (who stood by her man during the scandal) and his baby boy. By all accounts, the video is a strong presentation of a mayoral candidate who would represent New York well and would work for the people.
Therein lies the question at hand. What effect does Weiner’s disgraced past have on his chances of winning this election?
The question is best answered by observing the American public and their relationship with American politics. How much information does the average voter actually take in when entering a voting booth? Barack Obama won the 2008 Presidential Election for several reasons, but many will argue that it came down to the fact that he was simply more likable than John McCain. Obama became a social-media sensation, reaching millions of young voters John McCain could not touch. Yet how many of the young Obama supporters could accurately convey Obama’s political record? How many of them knew what Obama had achieved or failed as an Illinois Senator? The numbers would be minimal. The media gives the average American a largely black and white display of political leaders; more accurately, a red and blue display. There are many attributes to politicians we never seek to learn about, or even care about. It’s an unfortunate truth, but the general masses will concur that the most interesting form of politics is dirty politics. The public loves gossip. The public loves to shame those at the top.
What effect will this have on Anthony Weiner’s chances of winning the mayoral election this year? It will blind most voters. The ballot will be filled with names and numbers, but when it comes time to vote for New York City Mayor, most voters will not see the honorable family man presented in Weiner’s YouTube video, but will see what they remember: An irresponsible sexual deviant with no self-control. Whether or not Anthony Weiner would be good for New York (which many will argue he would) will matter very little. His past will haunt him even today. It’s not to say that he has no chance of winning; politics is a most unpredictable beast. But it will be a very hard fight for the outspoken public servant.