Measuring love in politics is a difficult thing to do because you never know if it really is love or just an act for the public, said Douglas Long, associate professor of political science. “I think that politicians always wanted to create the image of a loving family — the moral ideal — but whether or not that’s the reality is tough to judge,” Long added.
Success in politics is usually based on image, and if you look at most successful politicians, the image of a good, solid family life and a platform of family values is almost always there. There are the Bushes, the Martins, Jack Layton and Olivia Chow, the Clintons... OK, maybe not the Clintons.
Perhaps the Clintons show that love and a strong family image aren’t always necessary for success, as Bill’s approval ratings were still strong during the “Monica- gate” scandal. But the fact that Hillary stood by him and the couple maintained a strong front probably didn’t hurt either.
Long also cited former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher’s relationship with her husband Dennis as an interesting one to look at, calling the Thatchers “[a] remarkable couple; the emasculated male and the iron lady. Whether that qualifies as love is anyone’s guess.”
There have been cases where love has cost politicians, as in the case of U.S. Senator Ed Muskie during the 1972 Democratic primaries. While in New Hampshire, a local newspaper made various slanderous statements about Muskie’s wife. When he went on TV to defend her, he began to cry. Critics framed this as a sign of weakness and Muskie didn’t get the nomination for president.
Even now in Canada there is talk and gossip about the relationship between Deputy Conservative leader Peter MacKay and Conservative MP Belinda Stronach. When Parliament opened last week, some members of the Liberal Party heckled MacKay over the relationship, shouting things like “Pre-nupt!” and “Gold-digger!”
Long also chimed in on the MacKay-Stronach romance, wondering, “will Peter pop the question to Belinda on Valentine’s Day?”
What’s the relationship between love and politics? Is it genuine or just image? Only the politicians themselves really know, just like with every other action they take.