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We are back with the second installment of our analysis on the NSDA LD resolution for November/December! If you haven’t already, check out our Negative analysis here! Again, this topic analysis is to further stimulate discussion and thinking, not to give you a rubric of what to run.

Resolved: In a democracy, the public’s right to know ought to be valued above the right to privacy of candidates for public office

On Affirmative, it will arguably be easier to gain the judge’s sensibilities, however that doesn’t mean you are guaranteed them. Why? Because it really makes sense that we should know everything about someone before we elect them. Most normal people would agree with that. Because let’s be frank, we don’t want a leader/representative/politician who is:

  1. A liar
  2. Keeping a secret
  3. Secretly a bad person with bad motivations who fooled the voter base just to get into office

There is a litany of theoretical arguments you can make, about how total transparency will improve the electoral process leaps and bounds. If indeed our representative democracy is leading to populism, with the majority deciding everything, then it will ensure a better leader is chosen.

This is definitely a resolution to go back and read some John Stuart Mill.

Possible Avenues of Argumentation (Or Contentions)

  • In many ways, the private lives of politicians reflect their judgment. Debaters will say that private and public life should be dichotomized, but in reality, psychology says differently.
  • Heavy Scrutiny standard will disincentivize bad leaders from running, and encourage others to work harder to do what is right.
  • Solves for Back Chilling Effects: Heavy Scrutiny will challenge existing power structures, and help overturn potentially abusive leaders.
  • Politicians get to regulate many areas of citizens personal lives via policy-making, because of this, their personal lives should be put under scrutiny.
  • Politicians privacy needs to be linked to the needs of the representative democracy. “Any adequate justification for privacy must rely on a view about what the democratic process requires.” – Dennis F. Thompson

The single best analysis of this subject, in it’s entirety, that I have yet to find via research, resides here: 2010. Raison – Publique: http://www.raison-publique.fr/article206.html

Further Reading

Markkula Center for Applied Ethics: https://www.scu.edu/government-ethics/resources/what-is-government-ethics/the-personal-lives-of-public-officials/

1981 Political Theory Journal:https://www.jstor.org/stable/191093?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents

2011 “Does the Public Really Have the Right to Know About Politicians’ Private Lives”http://www.phoenix.edu/colleges_divisions/humanities/articles/2011/06/does-the-public-really-have-the-right-to-know-about-politicians-private-lives.html

1997 “Legislatures and Citizens: Communication Between Representatives and their Constituents”. National Conference of State Legislatures. http://www.ncsl.org/legislatures-elections/trust/communication-between-representatives-and-their-co.aspx

  1. “Shifting Boundaries of Public and Private Life”. Theory Culture Society 28(4): 49-70.
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