Our Politicians Are Not Our Idols


Last spring, Americans across the country looked to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo for guidance on the COVID-19 pandemic. The media praised him for his leadership qualities, and 85% of voters approved of how he handled the crisis in its earliest stages. Hundreds of thousands of people, many of whom live outside of New York state, viewed Cuomo’s daily briefings. In a time of crisis, Americans sought guidance and leadership; Cuomo became the personification of those qualities. He became “America’s governor” and, more unfortunately, “America’s daddy.” 

Governor Cuomo is only the latest example in a worrying trend of turning our politicians into idols. It’s a trend that makes sense given our era of celebrity status and free-flowing information. We feel connected to political leaders — we see their faces on every screen and hear their voices on every platform. Politicians manage their digital presences and use the media to project an image of themselves: smart, compassionate, quick-witted.

However, we cannot allow ourselves to worship our political leaders. As genuine as they appear, we must recognize that they, too, are only human. Politicians are never infallible, and we are wrong to idolize them. Supporting a political candidate is not the same as being a fan of a pop star. 

We must remember that we are not meant to serve politicians; they are meant to serve us. It’s one thing to look away when celebrities make mistakes, but politicians’ mistakes directly impact the people they represent. 

Over the past month, Governor Cuomo has fallen from grace. It began with allegations that Cuomo worked to cover up the number of coronavirus-related deaths in nursing homes. Fordham students are already familiar with his conflicting advice and shifting goalposts. And within the past week, three women accused Cuomo of sexual harassment, including two former aides and a woman he met at a wedding

From this information alone, it’s clear that we were wrong to worship Cuomo for his apparent wisdom in the early days of the coronavirus pandemic. However, it’s important to remember that any wisdom we see in politicians is always only apparent. 

We have to exercise caution in turning politicians into icons — both those we agree with and those we disagree with. It’s necessary to critique both President Biden’s and former President Trump’s actions, regardless of whose views we personally align with. There will never be a flawless leader, and it’s our duty as citizens to recognize those flaws when they become visible. We are responsible for holding leaders accountable for their actions, and we are unable to do so if we insist on viewing a candidate through rose-colored glasses.

The Fordham Ram is not trying to sow even more cynicism in your political opinions. We encourage you to support and follow politicians for their views, the laws they champion and the work they do. However, we implore you not to go so far as to call yourself a “Cuomosexual” or take a photo next to a gold statue of a former U.S. president. 

Politics requires nuance, caution and reason. We promise to utilize each of them in our coverage as we look at the national, state and local political spheres we live in. As always, though, it’s not entirely up to us. We call on the entire Fordham community to keep its eyes open and resist the urge to idolize politicians, no matter how likable they are.