Some may say that being petty in politics is just part of the game. In a way, politics is like life. There are times when people are just plain petty for no good reason, and there is probably no real reason to ever be seriously petty.
Being petting is defined as being ungenerous, narrow, or small. “Meanness of spirit” is what being petty is really all about. Unfortunately, sometimes when it starts, it cannot stop. A snowball effect occurs; a petty comment or act is returned with responding one.
Bottom line: There is no need to be petty in politics or in life. The temptation is present at times, but resisting the pettiness temptation speaks to our character.
Rewind to earlier this week when Paul McCartney received the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song. During his acceptance at the White House, Mr. McCartney said the following:
“It’s a fantastic honor (for) the Gershwin family to give me this incredible award and for me to be awarded it by the Library of Congress. And in fact, after the last eight years, it’s great to have a president who knows what a library is.”
Why? In a moment of great honor, why throw a barb at a former president? What was gained?
There is nothing gained by being petty. In this specific instance, it lowers the moment.
In politics, pettiness begets pettiness. People cannot stop. They feel an unnecessary need to respond in kind. And, so it goes… House Minority Leader John Boehner made the following statement:
“I hope he’ll apologize to the American people for his conduct which demeaned him, the White House and President Obama.”
What problem does the statement solve? Does President Obama really feel demeaned? What about the Library of Congress and Gershwin, weren’t they demeaned, too?
There is no purpose in this statement. It is simply petty. Just leave it alone. People recognize Mr. McCartney’s statement from what it was. Why respond with a meaningless statement?
Representative Boehner should know better, and he should rise above petty politics.
Boehner and McCartney need to learn from Joyce and Galarraga; they showed grace, humility, and honor.
The point is this: Rise above pettiness when it occurs. Don’t lower your character standards to respond. Make a better decision. Be a better person.
Sir Paul McCartney should focus on music and be gracious in times of being honored. Representative John Boehner should focus on passing good legislation and serve his constituents in an honorable manner.
There is a fitting quote from a former president. The name of the president will go unmentioned, since it is very ironic in who made the statement. Here it is:
“Remember, always give your best. Never get discouraged. Never be petty. Always remember, others may hate you. But those who hate you don’t win unless you hate them. And then you destroy yourself.”
In this case, do as this president said, not as he did.
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The Political Pettiness Snowball Effect