Editorial: Keep politicians off pedestals | TribLIVE.com

Editorial: Keep politicians off pedestals

In this Nov. 1, 2017 photo Pennsylvania state Sen. Mike Folmer, R-Lebanon, speaks at a Capitol news conference in Harrisburg, Pa. Folmer is facing child pornography possession charges after authorities said they executed a search warrant Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2019, on a tip from an online social media provider that the user had uploaded an image using its service.

It is hard to believe that someone who makes the laws could break them flagrantly.

But it happens. It happens more than we would like to admit.

Elected officials are arrested. They plead guilty. They are convicted. They can serve prison sentences and sometimes they come back from political death for another bite at the apple.

And it shouldn’t surprise us because the people we elect are, first and foremost, people.

Pennsylvania got a front-row seat for the latest demonstration of this when state Sen. Mike Folmer, R-Lebanon, was arrested on child pornography charges. Folmer subsequently resigned from the Senate.

The Patriot-News quoted one fellow lawmaker calling the revelation a “gut punch.”

It should not be a gut punch that a legislator is accused of downloading pornographic images of children.

It should be a gut punch that anyone would.

It is important that we remember that our leaders are people. They are not, despite a million jokes about lawyers and politicians, any better or worse than the rest of us. They are no more or less likely to commit a crime simply because they can give a speech, win an election or make a decision.

Pennsylvanians shouldn’t have to be reminded of this. Former Treasurer Barbara Hafer was convicted of lying to the FBI. Former Attorney General Kathleen Kane was recently released from jail after her perjury conviction. Former Treasurer Rob McCord pleaded guilty to extortion. That’s barely the tip of a way-too-big iceberg.

People aren’t infallible. They will make mistakes, and we have to be prepared to act accordingly when it happens to keep the government as untouched by corruption as possible.

And the reason we have to keep that in mind is that we have to keep our leaders off pedestals — for their good and our own.

For their good, they need the opportunity to defend themselves rather than just be assumed guilty. Folmer has not yet had his day in court, and he needs that. An accusation or an allegation is just that until a conviction or a guilty plea.

But for our good — our collective good — we need to keep a leader’s feet firmly on the ground, where they understand there are laws for a reason, and they still apply to the people who write or enforce them.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.