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The Politician’s Right to Privacy vs. the Public’s Right to Know


The Politician’s Right to Privacy vs. the Public’s Right to Know


In modern political discourse, which in most developed and a rising majority of developing nations hinges on the republican – ‘government by popular vote’ – ideals of western democracy, politicians serve as the bridge between the public and the helms of state power.

Since they rely on their electorates for getting nominated to various public offices, the people voting for them possess a fundamental right to learn more about their overt and personal lives – knowledge which facilitates them in making sound decisions for their sociopolitical collectives.

But a problem arises when the public becomes too probing, and starts to look into matters pertaining to select politicians which don’t have any foreseeable bearing on their official statuses as civil servants.

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A Case of Unwarranted Public & Press Intrusion

The Monica Lewinsky scandal that affected the Clinton administration in the 90s is a good case in point of this tendency – an issue that culminated in the hasty and disgraced ouster of then President Bill Clinton from the highest office in the country.

Many political analysts, in retrospect, have remarked on the overly personal issue of this affair that took place before the turn of the millennium, and have concluded that its shocking nature should more appropriately have been confined behind closed doors. Even the President of the U.S (they now contend; irrespective of party affiliation), despite being a public figure bar none, is afforded the same civil rights as any other citizen – and so has the legal authority to maintain romantic liaisons with whomsoever he happens to see fit (whether within or without the conjugal bond).

When Machiavelli Rears his Head

The Public does, however, have an innate right to ask the politicians that they intend to vote for to release his/her tax statements, as well as other records that in one way or another (even if indirectly so) bear on their history of conforming to their local and national laws – and other social stipulations. This is because these matters have a direct impact on their lives, and a politician who chooses not to willingly dispense with this information should rightfully be treated with suspicion.

On this front, the intense and heated skepticism garnered by the Trump campaign (before the said individual’s enthronement in office) is a startling case in American political history when the precedent of full-disclosure wasn’t seriously adhered to.

Questions like ‘What has he/she got to hide?’ that naturally arise in the collective public mindset are quite warranted in such cases, and should be provided candid answers to before the concerned political candidate is allowed to run along the election cycle any further.


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