Gabrielle Giffords: Why We Vote

The tenacious congresswoman shows us what good politicians are made of.

By , Columnist

If I have to look at one more picture of yet another part of Anthony Weiner's body I am going to wash out my eyeballs with neat bleach. I just can't take it anymore. 

Thankfully, this weekend, my eyes and my sanity were saved by the welcome sight of Rep. Gabrielle Gifford's smiling face. Recent pictures of the congresswoman were posted on her Facebook page on Sunday, showing that she is making a steady recovery from the gunshot wound she sustained during the Tucson shooting in January, 2011. 

Over the past few weeks, voters have been given some good reasons to disengage. From Arnie Impregnator to Weinergate, we've all been plunged into the sad, sorry world of the political smutbag. How on earth, we are entitled to wonder, did these people come to a position of leadership?

When it comes to voting there are many things that engage us. Often we will vote on policy but mostly, I think, we vote on instinct. Does this person make me feel represented and safe? When the chips are down and the proverbial stuff hits the fan, will this person stand up and help my voice be counted? Or will they split their time between pumping their pecs at the gym and covering their ass when the towel drops?

Seeing Rep. Gifford's photo reminded me that, at least some of the time, voters' instincts hit the spot. Here is a woman who has fought her way back from death's door, undergoing months of painful surgery and rehabilitation. Just a few months after a bullet lodged itself in her brain, she is able to hold the gaze of the camera with a dignified and positive look in her eye. Setting aside any political views, she is exactly the kind of courageous human being who should be a politician.

In spite of making a solemn promise to myself to dedicate zero further column inches to Rep. Weiner, I just can't help but return to pick the scab. The contrast between Gifford's humble, graceful picture and the narcissistic grossfest that her fellow congressperson is putting out there is almost poetic. While one congresswoman is on a sincere road to recovery, another congressman announces what feels like a phony intention to seek treatment, a road to recovery which I suspect is a public relations spin exercise designed to bat back the calls for his resignation, rather than a genuine recognition of illness or addiction.  

So, when it is time to vote, how do you ensure that you get a Giffords and not a Weiner? The first thing is to always vote. Otherwise, just like American Idol, you get stuck with a winner only crazy, musically deaf people with a texting habit vote for. Second is to take substance over form. In this superficial world, it is easy to feel safer in the hands of a camera-ready politician. Let's face it, with a boss as good looking as Obama, it is kind of expected that the rest of the company should keep up. Perhaps the constant desire to buy into the idea of the physical perfection through the movie industry, magazines, television, and advertising encourages vain, insecure types like Weiner to run for office.

With two seats in the House of Representatives currently in a state of turmoil, people have a lot to think about when it comes to what makes them vote. My hope is that the tenacious owner of one of the seats gets a chance some day to reclaim it and that the other puts a shirt on and starts exercising some dignity; because when it comes down to it, that is what makes us vote.

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Victoria Robertson is a freelance current affairs columnist and founder of With her back foot firmly planted in some commonsense and a lively swing of the bat, she knocks today's big news stories straight out of the park.

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