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Puritanism permeates politics, some influences not all bad

By Rohan Keith Andresen ’12
THE ROUNDUP

The other day, I read an editorial in USA Today discussing how the legal attack on former presidential candidate John Edwards has been fueled with traditional puritan beliefs and guidelines.

Edwards’ campaign committee was recently accused of using campaign funds from wealthy donors to pay off Edwards’ mistress.

The author explained how Edwards’ aid, who is responsible in the misuse of campaign funds, is not being punished, but instead Edwards is receiving the brunt of the attack because our puritan society is bent on chastising him for his adultery.

This led me to ask, are these puritan beliefs outdate or are they justified in society?

Granted, things like stoning “witches” or hanging an adulterer and adulteresses is obviously something of the past; however, are the morals that traditional puritans clung to condemnable or commendable?

These morals are abstaining from sex until marriage, having one partner, avoiding drugs and alcohol and leading a spiritual life.

In our hypersexualized society with so many vices, maybe the puritan influence is what keeps us from going over the end and falling into decadence.

Critics of the puritan influence would say that the only reason we see our society as hypersexualized is because of the stringent and pious restrictions that Puritans founded our country’s culture onfill our
past.

I, however, see the good that comes out of the old Puritanical thinking. Though I do not believe it is all right, I see some underlying morals and infrastructure that keep us in line.

The conservative ideals that Puritans stressed in premarital and extramarital sex, drinking, drugs and language is a model that would be safe to emulate.

Abstaining from these things and viewing them as vices is something that I hope many of our political leaders would believe as well. That obviously does not happen all the time.

Case in point: Edwards.

Though, I do not believe chastising Edwards is the way to go either.

His aid was dually responsible for the illegal misuse of funds and therefore should be punished equally.

Allowing this ideological witch hunt to condemn Edwards for his discrepancies is a travesty of our justice system and should be acknowledged as such.

Though, to ignore his—or any other’s—wrongdoings would be a mockery of our country’s morality. It is necessary to exploit our leaders’ transgressions, but we should punish them as we would anyone else.

They should be urged to admit and apologize for their misconduct, but to seek legal action for a legal lack of morals is ludicrous. We must simply acknowledge the problem and address it through our view on the political leader and the subsequent reelection of him or her.

I believe that the Puritans did have some things right and I don’t think that we should give them the axe as being completely outdated and archaic. Some morals never grow old.