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Should Politicians’ Family Members Be Off-Limits?

Politicians’ families are increasingly scrutinized. Many voters are uncomfortable with the personal attacks, which extend beyond adult children and spouses to young children. Should candidates’ families be under the microscope? How personal is too personal? On this week’s Millennial Minute, Julia Sun discussed these issues with David Aronov, a candidate for the New York City Council, and AJ Swinson, chief of staff for New Journey PAC. 

Should politicians’ family members be off limits?

As a current candidate for the New York City Council, Aronov brings a personal perspective to this issue. He says focusing on family members — even for legitimate reasons — can distract voters from the real issues at stake.

But Swinson thinks that voters need to know about family members’ issues so they can make better-informed decisions. On the other hand, she feels that negative attacks against family members can alienate voters as they want to distance themselves from that type of rhetoric. 

Personal and professional life — where is the divide?

Aronov makes the distinction between a candidate’s personal and professional life. For example, if a family member suffers from substance abuse issues, that is not directly related to the candidate’s professional life. Negative campaigns focusing on family members turn off voters.

What about affair scandals? Aronov considers them a distraction from real issues, while Swinson sees a lack of marital faithfulness as potentially reflective of a candidate’s loyalty to their voters.

What about a candidate’s young children?

Both candidates strongly believe that young children should be off-limits when criticizing or discussing a candidate’s family.

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