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Lack of Accountability in Politics 

The Case of Golriz Ghahraman

Green Politician charged with three counts of theft 

Green MP | Woman Shoplifting Clothing from store

In the realm of politics, a noticeable trend has emerged where politicians, facing controversy or accountability for their actions, often cite mental health issues as a contributing factor. This pattern, particularly prevalent among liberal left politicians, leads to significant discourse on the balance between mental health concerns and personal accountability. 

The Incident Involving Golriz Ghahraman 

The case of Golriz Ghahraman, a Green Party MP in New Zealand, exemplifies this trend. Accused of shoplifting from upscale clothing stores, with police investigating multiple incidents, Ghahraman attributed her actions to an extreme stress response and unprocessed trauma, as assessed by a mental health professional. While acknowledging mental health is critical, it raises questions about the extent to which it should mitigate personal responsibility for one’s actions. 

Patterns of Deflection in Politics 

This phenomenon is not unique to Ghahraman’s case. Instances such as Wellington mayor Tory Whanau admitting to an alcohol issue after a reported incident at a bar, illustrate a similar pattern. While seeking help is positive, it also prompts reflection on the implications of such issues for individuals in public office. 

The Complexity of Public Apologies 

These politicians often issue apologies laced with justifications, blurring the lines between taking responsibility and deflecting blame. This practice raises doubts about the sincerity of their remorse. It appears that invoking mental health concerns is becoming a common strategy to shield oneself from complete accountability. 

Eroding Public Trust 

The frequent use of mental health as a rationale by politicians can damage public trust. It suggests a double standard where political figures can avoid full accountability by citing mental health, thus eroding confidence in the political system’s integrity and transparency. 

Media’s Dual Role 

The media is pivotal in shaping perceptions and holding public figures accountable. However, their coverage needs to balance between highlighting personal failings and focusing on broader issues like the intersection of mental health and political decision-making. 

The Need for a Balanced Approach 

Acknowledging and supporting mental health is crucial, but it should not eclipse the need for accountability in politics. A balanced approach, recognizing the challenges faced by politicians while maintaining commitment to transparency and integrity, is essential for preserving public trust. 

The trend of politicians citing mental health issues to avoid full responsibility calls for introspection within our political system. Addressing mental health is important, but it should not be an escape route from accountability. The political landscape needs leaders who stand accountable, even amidst personal struggles. Achieving a balance between empathy and responsibility is key to fostering a more transparent and credible political environment. 

As former U.S. President Harry S. Truman famously said, “The buck stops here,” emphasizing the essence of accountability in leadership. This principle is vital in ensuring that mental health issues do not become a habitual defense against accountability in politics. 

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