As members of a worldly and affluent university, it would have been hard for even the most politically disinclined of students not to hear about “maidgate”.
As if the gubernatorial races hadn’t already given us enough to think about amid the debates and name-calling, the recent scandal involving Meg Whitman and her former housekeeper Nicandra Diaz-Santillan has turned this year’s elections into a nail-biting political drama.
Represented by celebrity attorney Gloria Allred, Diaz-Santillan is claiming that after admitting to Whitman that she was an illegal alien, she was fired in a phone call with the Republican GOP candidate saying, “From now on you don’t know me and I don’t know you. You never have seen me and I have never seen you. Do you understand me?”
And besides claims of Whitman’s “abuse,” including not paying her for extra hours and mileage for out-of-house errands, Diaz-Santillan is also alleging that Whitman knew about her illegal status all along. Whitman, of course, is denying all this.
People are now crying hypocrisy as they realize the inconsistency between her employment of an undocumented worker and her anti-immigrant policies.
America’s Voice, an advocacy group for immigration reform, has released what is called the “Whitman vs. Whitman on Immigration Report”, illustrating her “Tough as Nails” radio advertisement where she promises to “create an economic fence to crack down on employers who break the law by using illegal labor,” and her assurances that she respects the Latino community.
And so the question arises — truth or cover-up? Whitman said she would submit to taking a polygraph test, but they aren’t known for their accurate track records.
What we as students can do in the meantime besides twiddling our thumbs is to consider the implications of this scandal and how it will change our opinions of Whitman, or even our votes.
Furthermore, we should consider the lack of rhetorical consistency in Whitman’s campaign and hopefully not succumb to the same hypocrisy in our college papers, future lives and more.
The first thing we need to understand is that no one makes it out of these types of situations without repercussions.
If Whitman’s defenses are true, Diaz-Santillan faces possible deportation and Whitman loses the support of the Latino community.
If Diaz-Santillan’s allegations are true, Whitman could face penalties for knowingly hiring an illegal worker (and the maid once again faces possible deportation.)
Which result would we prefer to see and what should we take into account when choosing a side?
Is it continually believing that Whitman could not have possibly known about Diaz-Santillan — though a copy of a Social Security letter notifying her that her housekeeper’s documentation had problems has surfaced — and that Diaz-Santillan might only be looking for her 15 minutes of fame? Is it supporting a tough, no-amnesty approach to penalizing the two parties for each committed criminal acts — one illegal immigrant and one employing an illegal immigrant?
Either way, Whitman’s defenses are becoming tiring and almost comical. In one gubernatorial debate, Jerry Brown said,“Don’t run for governor if you can’t stand on our own two feet and say ‘Hey I made a mistake.’” If Whitman did so, she’d seem more like a candidate that we can all relate to and vote for.
Observing how political rhetoric often diminishes our belief in a figure should also reflects on our ability to speak, teaching us how not to argue a point.
Besides the lack of consistency between Whitman’s proposed reforms and her alleged actions, her support for Arizona’s SB 1070 is questionable as well. She claims that she supports Arizona’s push for this type of reform but would not implement the same kind of legislation in California. In the same vein, the Obama administration argued that the border was secure, yet to increase higher ratings, it sent troops to enforce already enforced rules.
Instead of accepting these political tactics, we should find ways to express our genuine opinions and not satisfy a group for the sake of losing credibility altogether. We should all remember — words will bite you back.
Alice Wen is a freshman majoring in print and digital journalism.