by Brian T. Lynch, MSW
Whenever hypocrisy strikes a Republican politician, the immediate argument on the right is that Democratic politicians are not morally superior to Republicans. This is may be true, but it is also misleading. The most recent GOP hypocrisy scandal is an example.
Representative Tim Murphy of Pennsylvania became the latest GOP social conservative to manifest hypocrisy. Murphy is married, has an adult child, is a staunch right-to-life proponent and a member of the Congressional House Pro-Life Caucus. This January he voted for the latest Pro-Life bill that passed in Congress. He proudly highlighted his support for the bill in a press release that reads in part:
“Passage of H.R. 7 in the wake of the President’s executive action yesterday gives me great hope that moving forward, we will once again be a nation committed to honoring life from the moment of conception onward and ensuring American taxpayer dollars are never spent to end a life before it even begins.” [Murphy, January 24, 2017]
The scandal is that he had just suggested to a woman who became pregnant as a result of their extra-marital affair that she should have an abortion. The woman, Shannon Edwards, was offended by the hypocrisy of Murphy’s public and private attitudes on abortion and told him so in a text message:
“And you have zero issue posting your pro-life stance all over the place when you had no issue asking me to abort our unborn child just last week when we thought that was one of the options.” [Edwards, January 2017]
Ms. Edward’s texts went public and Tim Murphy has since announced he will not run for re-election next year. The very polarized social media debates are well underway.
From this brief account the hypocrisy is clear and the consequences are sad for those involved, especially his wife and child. Frustration on the right is also understandable as this keeps happening on the GOP side. It may seem like the media are selectively reporting on GOP moral gaffs, hence comes the counter-argument that Democratic politicians are just as likely to engage in immoral behaviors, but circumstances make this misleading.
On the Republican side, family values focuses on moral issues, such as this case in point. On the Democratic side family values focuses more on policy issues, such as universal health care, fair wages, school lunch programs, etc. It is less likely politicians will fall victim to hypocrisy if the family values they promote are policy related rather than morality based.
As long as Republicans exploit social conservative issues and insist on legislating morality, the GOP will continue to provide glaring examples that we all fall short of living perfect lives. Conceding that Democrats are just as likely to engage in immorality may be true, but it doesn’t change the fact that they are still less likely to sound like hypocrites when they do.