The easy thing to do in the Sheriff Paul Babeu scandal is to focus on his private life and mock it. Most of his most fervent online opponents have been quick to follow that route, suggesting that his sexual orientation and lifestyle are the reasons why he got himself into this mess in the first place.
However, choosing that path would just put his critics in a place that few would thrive in. Joke about his homosexuality and in the end, you come across as homophonic and mean-spirited.
The karma that Babeu is facing now should not be about his sexual orientation. Instead, what Babeu is guilty of more serious issues: political hypocrisy and a blatant abuse of power. Babeu is an elected official and he is also a candidate for US Congress. His views on immigration and his beliefs that undocumented people were "criminals" led to national recognition. If there were a poster boy for FAIR (Federation for American Immigration Reform), it was Babeu.
Publicly, Babeu spewed his anti-immigration views, claiming that it was in the best interests of America. Yet, in the end, his alleged relationship with someone who claims that Babeu was threatening him with deportation if their relationship became public, speaks of blatant and rampant hypocrisy. He claims that he is innocent, but at the same time, Babeu also stepped down as the co-chair of Mitt Romney's campaign in Arizona. Stories like these matter, and Babeu does not yet fully realize that the damage has been done to his public image as the GREAT DEFENDER OF THE BORDER. Does he still have the fight when in the end, his political credibility has tanked?
If voters in Arizona are still supporting Babeu, do they even consider the trust factor, which was shattered by these new developments? Will they support him now, even though to MANY OF THEM sexual orientation DOES MATTER? Or is the true Arizona GOP demographic anti-immigration and pro-gay? We doubt it. However, if indeed his base forgives him, what does it say about them as voters? We are ok with some gays, but let's make sure it doesn't get too extreme for us? Before the scandal, it is was about morality. Now what?
The day after he denied the allegations but confirmed that he was gay, Babeu was trying to put this all behind him, claiming that he will still run for US Congress. However, the reaction out of Arizona has been mixed and quite frankly, perplexing. As ABC News reported:
Support for Arizona Sheriff Paul Babeu has been mixed since the Pinal County sheriff found himself embroiled in allegations that he threatened to have his ex-boyfriend deported.
Arizona Sen. John McCain stood by his friend and political supporter.
"Well of course Sheriff Babeu is a friend of mine. I do not know the details except what has been published in the media and I am sure there will be a thorough and complete investigation if there is any allegations of wrongdoing,” McCain said. “All I can say is that he also deserves the benefit, as every citizen does, of innocence until proven guilty.”
Chairman of the Pinal County Board of Supervisors Pete Rios disagreed. "Clearly this is an issue that is not going away anytime soon,” Rios told the Arizona Republic. “It will be with the sheriff for quite a while and Pinal County for quite a while. We’ll see if the sheriff sees the light and that he is truly damaging his department, law enforcement and Pinal County with these allegations.”
Rios, who has been a critic of Babeu, said he planned to ask the Pinal County Attorney’s Office to investigate whether Babeu abused his power and possibly county resources, the newspaper reported.
The focus here is exactly what Rios has said. Will Babeu's stance and actions hurt Pinal County even more, and will he just do the right thing and walk away from the scandal, proving that sometimes not fighting anymore is the best course of action?
And if you think we are the only ones questioning Babeu's actions, a GOP group whose leadership is prominently Latino just released similar thoughts:
Evidence that you [Babeu] have or may abuse your power are extremely relevant in the upcoming elections. You did the right thing by stepping down as Mitt Romney’s Arizona campaign co-chairman, though it’s likely you would have been asked to step down had you not preempted the firing by resigning first.
You should also withdraw from the congressional race immediately. The obvious lack of judgement you demonstrated, and these serious allegations hanging over your campaign make you unelectable. Leaving the race will clear the field for the two credible Republican candidates in the race now, and open the door for other qualified republicans to step forward and run for this office. Note that we are not supporting either of the two other Republican candidates.
You are not a credible candidate, due to your constant fear mongering about border violence, the apparently self-inflicted shooting of one of your deputies, and now this scandalous behavior, all of which call into question your leadership and integrity. Several border area mayors even wrote you a letter debunking your constant claims of border violence spiraling out of control, when in fact FBI statistics show that our border communities are among the safest.
In the end, Babeu lived a double-life. In his public world, he spoke of law and order and cleaning Arizona from the "criminals," but in his private world, if the allegations stick, he acted in a way that would have challenged his policies as sheriff. Ironically, the public Babeu could have gone after the private Babeu, if we take his public and hateful rhetoric to heart. That is the game of mistrust that is happening here, and voters should be demanding more from their leaders, especially the ones who promote fear and sensationalism, yet live in another hidden world where power can be manipulated to prey on the lives of others.
The right thing to do is to just resign. Simple as that. Not because you are gay, because you are a hypocrite.