Opinion: When should politicians have to get help?

Bruce Walton is a senior columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].

Bruce Walton

For as long as there has been democracy, there have been political scandals. And when there is a scandal or speculation of a politician’s dirty laundry being revealed, they choose one of two options. They can cover it up so it never reaches the light of day or own up to it and leave the political scene.

However, there is a third option very few politicians like Toronto Mayor, Rob Ford have chosen: nothing.

Earlier this week, Ford admitted to smoking crack cocaine last year. To everyone’s shock, the mayor defended his claim by telling reporters that he wasn’t addicted but only smoked it in one of his “drunken stupors.”

But this has not deterred the Canadian politician from pursuing his career. Even though a scandal of this magnitude would bring lesser men to a few months in rehab, Ford thinks quite the opposite, saying, “it is what it is” and plans to run in the next election.

This is surprising, and I have to say I am both impressed and disappointed by Ford. Then, on Thursday, a video was leaked of Ford on a tirade, raging about wanting and planning to kill someone. It lead to Ford being surrounded by reporters saying it’s out there and he is embarrassed, but, still, it has not made him step down. As he left the reporters, a woman shouted at him repeating the words, “Do you need help, Rob Ford?”

And that is the question: does he need help, or, rather, should he be forced to get help? Ford might have done these things in the past, but he refuses to step down; should he?

Ford hasn’t lied to the people—in fact, he has been pretty truthful, and it seems to not have hurt the people he governs over (as far as we can prove). So what is the enforcement to do? This is also a climbing trend in American politics where politicians such as Eliot Spitzer and Anthony Weiner, who stepped down from office, are now coming back to the same political scene, running for elections.

This has happened even in the past. Andrew Jackson, who killed a man and disregarded Congress to implement the Trail of Tears, still stayed in office. This is the same man who is on the $20 bill!

So, should Ford be forced to go to rehab, or, at the very least, anger management? Yes. Just because he says he’s OK doesn’t mean he is.

But does this mean he shouldn’t be involved in politics anymore? That is the real question, and, for that, I can’t really say. Can you trust a man whose wife or family can’t trust him not to cheat or do drugs or commit acts of violence? I don’t think I could, but I guess it doesn’t matter until Congress makes a law for it.