If you don't cheat on your spouse, you can't be a politician or any other type of important, powerful, or successful person.


The Stanton Peele Addiction Website, September 29, 2010. This blog post also appeared on Stanton's Addiction in Society blog at PsychologyToday.com.

You Have to Cheat to Run for Governor

The two men running for governor of New York are having a spat. The press has been hounding Republican Carl Paladino - a religious, family values candidate - for fathering an illegitimate child during an extramarital affair. But Paladino is complaining angrily that the press has failed to scrutinize his Democratic opponent Andrew Cuomo's likely affairs. Surely, Paladino reasons, Cuomo was unfaithful since his former wife, Kerry Kennedy, left Cuomo for a man with whom she was having a fling.

Whoever wins will be in good company. The current governor of New York, David Paterson, admitted in a pre-emptive move when he took office to having affairs (he claimed he and his current wife were separated at the time). Paterson succeeded former governor Eliot Spitzer when Spitzer was found out consorting with a call girl.

Huh? Do you ever get the feeling that politicians have more active sex lives than average people?

There are two possibilities. The first is that, when people achieve power, one of the main ways they make use of their power is to have illicit sex. The other possibility is that people who are amoral and have rampant extramarital sex are those most likely to run for - and win - public office.

Which of the two do you think is true? If the first, this means that all of those campaign claims of wanting to help their constituents, or Americans, or the underprivileged, or the environment are really rationales politicians use in order to get laid more. Well that, and to get advantages and preferences for themselves and their families. (So far in September two prominent members of the Congressional Black Caucus were revealed to have diverted funds for college scholarships raised by the group to their and their staffs' families.)

If the second is true, this means that we Americans elect the morally suspect to represent us. Of course, if both candidates' backgrounds are filled with family-wrecking sex, what choice does the electorate have - we can only vote for a cheater.

Another way of looking at the second possibility is that the kinds of people who do the things necessary to get elected (or to become rich and famous) simply ignore the rules we are all supposed to follow. From this perspective, if you're not getting ahead, it's because you're a goody-two-shoes sucker.

Not to pick on former President Bill Clinton - who is now the most popular Democrat in the country - but if you (assuming you're fifty or so) encountered a willing 22-year-old intern at your job, would you have sex with her? No? This fastidiousness explains why you're not a big deal.

Or why you can't be governor of New York. You see, cheating is a prerequisite for that job.