From the House of Delegates, to jail, to the House of Delegates

Hiba Ahmad
Contributing Columnist

A politician is someone who has been elected for their devotion to the citizens of their communities. They should be an individual with a strong charisma with an open mind and a positive moral compass. They shouldn’t be someone who puts on a navy blue suit with an American flag pin on their breast pocket in the morning only to return to a jail cell and an orange jumpsuit at night. However, that’s what the 46 percent of voters who turned out to the Special Election on Jan. 6 pictured when they decided to put a checkmark next to Joe Morrissey’s name.

When the decision was announced, the members of the House of Delegates were faced with the difficult predicament of dealing with someone who is currently serving a year in jail for the delinquency of a minor. I join in on their chorus of shock because I wonder how someone who returns to the confinement of a barred cell is planning on addressing the issues of the state I live in.

Someone who is elected to office is supposed to lead by example through their actions. They are not only the face of policymaking for their state, but also the face of the citizens who they represent. Though Morrissey’s lack of professionalism is disappointing, he is not the only one to be criticized in this situation.

The voters who elected him are also to be questioned. I can’t help but wonder why a Virginian citizen would elect someone with poor moral conduct to a position of power. Morrissey’s name has been casted across recent headlines, so this could have had an effect on the voters’ decision because his name was the most recognizable. If this was the case, the stereotypical laziness of Americans has prevailed.

As citizens of a democratic nation, we have a civic duty to ourselves and those around us to elect officials who are worthy of making the important decisions that affect our lives. We the people were given this right, and as members of this free society we must honor it by putting people with good habits and intentions in positions of power.

Other than the citizens and Morrissey himself, some believe that the Democratic and Republican parties are to blame for the reelection of their fellow delegate. The parties failed to provide a candidate that was worthy of legislature in the voters’ eyes. Paul Goldman, Morrissey’s law partner who also informed Morrissey of his reelection, believes in the voters’ decision. “The people have spoken. This is our system. Joe respected the voters. He treated them with respect,” Goldman said.

Goldman is correct about the system. We are given the choice to vote, and this right is something the Democratic and Republican delegates are trying to respect as they try to deal with the questionable view Morrissey has brought upon the House. Though, if Morrissey respected his voters like Goldman preaches, he would not have involved himself in situations that question his moral conduct. As members of the Virginia community, we need to recognize that this same moral compass he used to make the decision to involve himself with a minor is going to be used to make decisions regarding our lives. Someone who is so well-respected should be carrying themselves in such a way in every aspect of their life, private and public.

Being members of this free society comes with the responsibility to be actively aware and question the things around us. Understanding and critiquing the people we elect to represent us to rest of the nation is especially crucial because they are the faces to our problems. Electing someone like Joe Morrissey sends the message to the rest of the nation that as a community we really don’t care about who we elect to office as long as long as our needs are met. If we continue to make the mistake of placing someone morally incapable of properly doing their job then we lose the right to complain when our needs aren’t met.

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