Reactions: The resignation of Rep. Aaron Schock
The resignation of Rep. Aaron Schock has filled the airwaves and Internet with pictures of his travels, clothes and photo shoots. Professor of Communication Joseph Zompetti has studied how the American public can view politicians as celebrities. He says there is nothing wrong with the cult of a political celebrity, just as long as it stays legal.
There is nothing wrong with Rep. Aaron Schock working out, wearing great suits and showing pictures of his abs. What’s wrong is that he may have done a lot of this on the taxpayer’s dime.
In a lot of ways, we look for ways to humanize politicians. You can find images of George W. Bush drinking a beer in a tavern on the campaign trail, Bill Clinton playing a saxophone or Barack Obama playing basketball. And that is good. We shouldn’t put our politicians on a pedestal and make them untouchable. These are ways that people can create connections with people they see as human, not distant celebrities.
If Aaron Schock had just worn bright suits or painted his office in bright colors, there would not have been anything wrong. Sure, he may have been teased about his Men’s Health photo shoot, but this was a man whose name was being bandied about for a possible vice president. He was seen as the future of the Republican Party. If it had not been for the money issues, he would still be on the rise.
Perhaps the worst part of the issue for the people he represented is that he is helping enforce the stereotype of the corrupt Illinois politician. It doesn’t matter to what party he belongs. The sad matter is that the attention will be on yet another Illinois politician mismanaging money.
What might be best for Illinois is if the Congressional Ethics Committee could continue to press the case against him. But since he is no longer in office, the case could go away, though it sounds as though it will press on with the feds.
Regardless of what happens, it’s the responsibility of the citizens of Illinois to see it does’t happen again to us. We need to learn from this, and what we need to learn is to be more informed when we pick our leaders. We cannot presume it is up to the media to do all the work for us, and we cannot assume our leaders are all following the rules because we elected them.
We need to take democracy back into our own hands. When we do not make decisions, we are letting others make decisions for us.