I have been reading with great interest the conversations over the last few days about whether Len Brown’s affair should impact his political career. That is an interesting question but what we need politicians to know is that what happens ‘behind closed doors’ does actually matter.
Politicians ‘sell’ an image, people vote on that image, if that image is false then voters have been somewhat hoodwinked. If you set yourself a public ‘standard’ and then fall short of that standard there are downstream effects. If this information about Len Brown had been released the week before the election would he gotten re-elected? If not should he step down?
Mayor Len Brown has ‘sold’ his Christian credentials, and there is no question that there have been many, especially in South Auckland, that have given Len Brown their vote because of the label he has chosen for himself.
Here is some audio from 2010 when he chatted openly about his faith and his desire to emulate a political figure due to his integrity.
Mayor Len Brown chats openly about when he attended church and what denomination he was attached to, then Len was asked if he prayed.
The interviewer then went on to ask about going through trial and tribulations which at the time were accusations about credit card misuse
The interview then asked if his Christianity affected his policy
Len Brown finished the interview by sharing why Mahatma Gandhi was the most inspiring political figure to him.
I don’t judge Len Brown for what he has done, neither do I think he should necessarily be forced to step down, the whole purpose of this post is to point out to public figures that you need to stand by the standards you set for yourself, the ones you choose, the ones that help you win votes and when you fall short of those standards you need to be aware there are consequences.
There is an argument that says we are all failed beings and one can class themselves as a ‘Christian’ and have these failings. My advice to the political world is that you shouldn’t choose those labels then. I avoid the word ‘Christian’ like the plague, not because of what it means, but what people think should go with it, both positive and negative. Len Brown has chosen to let the public of Auckland define what kind of person he is by actively using the word ‘Christian’, it’s gotten him votes but then when you fall short of the publics expectations of that label you cannot claim that ‘no one has the right to know’. If you invite us in with this image, you cannot expect us to stay out when the image falls apart. I’m not saying that is fair…I’m just saying that’s the way it is.
I’ve been having the conversation about how people ‘sell’ themselves for ever. In 2010 when Jeremy Elwood and I ran a political podcast we interviewed Don Brash and I think we were the only people to bring up one of the most obvious questions to him. After talking about ‘behind closed door issues’ when he ran advertising that claimed he stood by his morals and integrity so I asked him how can we trust you, if your wife/wives can’t trust you?
Don Brash was selling a public image, that didn’t match up with his ‘real’ image. Your ‘real’ image is what happens ‘behind closed doors’.
Again let me say I don’t condemn Len Brown, in fact speaking with a mate this morning the phrase ‘feet of clay’ came out and I think that’s fair. We have all fallen short of the expectations of those around us, I would just say to political figures to be careful about your ‘public’ persona if your ‘behind closed-doors’ persona doesn’t match up.