There is a double standard in our politics

Ryan Zurek, Opinions Editor

One of the ideas that we aspire to (or at least should aspire to) in our political system is the idea of fair standards and equality for all. That all politicians, regardless of position, class, race or gender are treated equally by the press, and held to the same standards by all voters. However, as nice as this idea may sound, it should be blatantly obvious to all observers of our political system that in this regard at least, we utterly and completely fail.

Much has been written about the double standards of male and female politicians in our country. You don’t have to look very far to see the discrepancy in the way pundits talk about politicians like Sarah Palin and George Bush. Women are generally discussed in terms of their appearance or demeanour, and men in terms of their actions or accomplishments.

The same discrepancy often exists for powerful people of color. They are scrutinized, and held under a different light than white public figures. Any negative action committed by a person of color is blown out of proportion, and explained as a consequence of their race. Meanwhile, the same action committed by a white person belongs to them alone, and is almost never extrapolated to all white people.

But there is another double standard in our political system. Members of the Democratic Party are almost never held to the same standard as their Republican colleagues. Consider the difference in coverage between our current and previous presidents. During the Obama years Fox News, which according to a study done by the Nielsen Watch group is the most watched cable news channel, was full of pundits, presenters and commentators exploding in anger every time Obama went golfing. But now that Trump has spent more than triple the amount of time at the golf course than Obama, conservatives are oddly silent about the issue of presidential golf trips.

The double standard rears its ugly head again with issues such the Benghazi scandal. There have been eight separate, bipartisan, Congressional investigations into the case, and none of them found any wrongdoing on the part of Secretary Clinton, but Republicans continue to wail about Benghazi and government corruption. When it comes to the Mueller investigation into Trump-Russia collusion, an investigation for which there is far more evidence, and that has already led to several indictments, conservative figureheads such Sean Hannity are either completely silent, or are actively fighting against any sort of investigation.

We can see this double standard over and over, like the way conservatives approach Trump admitting to sexual harassment compared to their treatment of Bill Clinton’s infidelity. Made up scandals such as Pizzagate, Obama eating Dijon mustard and wearing tan suits or Obamacare Death panels are rampant during times of Democratic leadership, but when actual, consequential scandals that are supported by evidence appear around Republican leaders, there is no end to the mental gymnastics conservatives will perform in order to ignore them.

It’s not just talking heads and politicians either. Regular people will behave this way too. Bring up the Trump Russia scandal to your conservative uncle and he will fall over himself with “well what about Hillary and the Democrats” in response. It’s time to stop pretending like both sides are equally bad. Sure, the Democratic Party has its own problems. But the Republican Party, and the people who vote for it, are so clouded by their own cognitive dissonance that they have made themselves impossible to work with. It would be nice to believe that we can overcome our differences and compromise. But in order to do that we need to have some sort of respect for fair standards for both sides.

When one party is caught up in fake news and fake scandals that they can’t even see a real scandal when it hits them on the head, cooperation becomes impossible. The blame is not shared by both parties. Someone is at fault, and I think I know who it is.