Opinion: Universal law doesn’t include politicians

Elaina Sauber

Elaina Sauber

Elaina Sauber is a sophomore

English major and columnist

for the Daily Kent Stater.

Contact her at [email protected]

There aren’t that many requirements to run for President of the United States.

One must be a natural born citizen of the U.S., have been a permanent resident of the U.S. for at least 14 years and be 35 or older.

If you meet these criteria, you’re eligible to run for the presidency. But how can we best determine the most promising candidate?

After some thinking, I dwelled on Immanuel Kant, a German philosopher from the 18th century. In one of his works, “Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals”, he explains the concept of the categorical imperative.

The basis of the categorical imperative is: “Act only according to that maxim whereby you can, at the same time, will that it should become a universal law.”

Basically, don’t do something unless you would be OK with the rest of the world doing it. What if we used this rule to determine the quality of presidential candidates?

Take Newt Gingrich, for example. He married his first wife at age 19 in 1962. In 1980, he divorced her while she was recovering in the hospital from surgery, and soon after remarried Marianne Ginther — the woman he had an affair with during his first marriage. Then in 1993, he began having an affair with Callista Bisek and remarried her after his divorce from Ginther in 2000.

I’m not trying to vilify Gingrich; these are simply the facts. Now, if we were looking at this from the perspective of the categorical imperative, we would take note of the fact that Gingrich also reportedly suggested having an “open marriage” with Ginther during their marriage.

If he were the type of man that not only took responsibility for this behavior, but also made a point not to infringe upon the marital rights of others, he would be a great candidate. But this is not the case.

Gingrich has been incredibly vocal about his views on homosexuality, claiming that the overturning of California’s Proposition 8 showed “outrageous disrespect for our Constitution and for the majority of people of the United States who believe marriage is the union of husband and wife.”

He also believes homosexual couples should not be allowed to adopt. The inconsistency lies in the fact that Gingrich has acted very unconventionally toward marriage, and yet wants to deny others the right to marry because it, too, is unconventional.

The fact that he has had numerous affairs is no one’s business but his own, but denying homosexuals the right to marry despite his own marital history sheds light on his true character.

Of course, homosexuality is outlawed in the Bible, but then again, so is adultery. Gingrich has had the freedom to interpret the concept of marriage however he wished. It is unethical to deny that same basic right to his peers.