Whiter than white?

The Man in the White Suit - the new Parliamentary uniform?

The Man in the White Suit - the new Parliamentary uniform?

Do we really want politicians to be public paragons of virtue?

A good deal of what I read tends to work on the assumption that we do. Take this, for example:

“As technology evolves, the same public information laws create novel and in some cases previously unimaginable levels of transparency. In many cases, particularly those related to the conduct of top public officials, this seems to be a clearly good thing. In others, particularly those related to people who are not public figures, it may be more of a mixed blessing or even an outright problem. 

I’m reminded of the “candidates” of ancient Rome—the Latin word candidatus literally means “clothed in white robes,” which would-be officeholders wore to symbolize the purity and fitness for office they claimed to possess. By putting themselves up for public office, they invited their fellow citizens to hold them to higher standards.”

I mentioned this on another forum, and my friend, Chris, commented that the whiteness of the robes were also a status symbol. They said “look at me – I live in a nice part of town and I’ve got servants and slaves” Continue reading


We know what you don’t want. Now what DO you want?

Ming: The unacceptable face of British politics?

Ming: The unacceptable face of British politics? (pic: Click for Flickr attribution).

The Guardian’s Catherine Bennett is right to be worried about the impact that a climate of hypercommentary on personal tics will have on politics:

“With the internet demanding ever-improving performance skills from its principal actors, Westminster can only become less hospitable to people who look more like Menzies Campbell than Ant and Dec. Unless, that is, they can produce an official ugliness pardon from Simon Cowell and his authentic, travelling freakshow.”

But, if this is the case, what kind of elected representitives are we going to be prepared to tolerate in the future?

Over on the Personal Democracy Forum (which proudly declares that ‘technology is changing politics’), we see Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill explaining how Twitter helps her to keep it real:

“That’s really why I do it. I think it keeps me in the discipline of not being afraid to say things that may not be perfect, that may actually offend, that may actually truly reflect what I’m thinking and why.”

Senator McCaskill’s example strikes me as being very close to being a priestly ambition – someone who is constantly begging the civil variation on the question ‘What would Jesus do?’ Continue reading