YOU FIND out who your true friends are when you’re in trouble.

In most cases, the people you though you could depend on turn their backs on you in an instant. In politics, you quickly learn that you never really had any friends, just associates who wanted to steal your vote.

An excellent case in point is the current situation with Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, whose party turned on him like a pack of hyenas when trouble arose.

This column is not intended to discuss the medical school yearbook photo that surfaced last week or Northam’s unpopular stance on abortion, which apparently led to the photo being made public. 

Rather it deals with two aspects of our present society that are becoming more and more troublesome.

I have already talked about the first—friendship. As I said, when you get in trouble, you have few friends. That has always been true to some extent, but in today’s atmosphere of extreme political correctness it is a hard fact. As with Northam, when trouble arises your “friends” disappear.

My second point is that it is getting harder and harder to find competent people to run for public office anymore. One look at the present makeup of government in Washington will make that very clear.

Competent people no longer want to put their names on the ballot. And who can blame them? Who wants to face the scrutiny that goes with holding public office these days?

The press is after you from day one, the opposing party (both parties if you are an independent) will dig into every aspect of your background and your own party will turn its back on you at the slightest hint of trouble.

None of us are perfect. There is something in all our backgrounds of which we are not proud. All our closets contain skeletons.

Some of those skeletons, however, were not skeletons when they occurred. Times change and what was acceptable 50 years ago is not politically correct today. But that fact is never taken into consideration in today’s society. We just dig up dirt and scatter it around. And we convict without a trial.

Whoever put out the Northam photo probably had it in his political pocket for awhile. He (or she) was just waiting for the most opportune moment to make sure the yearbook page would do the most damage. And Northam’s recent abortion statements apparently triggered the release.

When that photo hit the internet, all but a couple of the governor’s friends headed for the hills. Friendship? Standing by a fellow party member? That all went out the window. I’ve got to protect myself, my political reputation. Sorry, buddy, but you’re on your own.

I suppose that is one more reason why the American public doesn’t trust any politician anymore. If you won’t even stand up for your friends, why should we believe that you would stand up for us?

But the controversy didn’t end with Northam. Next, allegations of sexual misconduct resurfaced against Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax. Then Attorney General Mark Herring, who was one of those who called for Northam’s resignation, revealed that he had once appeared in blackface while a student at the University of Virginia. So now there are calls for his resignation.

So a political storm rages around the governor, the lieutenant governor and now the attorney general! And you want to run for public office? You’ve got to be crazy!

Given the emotionally charged atmosphere of the day, it might be prudent for school systems to have teachers take notes on any politically incorrect words or actions from elementary school students so that they might be used against these kids should they one day run for public office.

Better yet, have your second-grader write down any such politically incorrect remarks his friends or classmates might make. They could turn out to be good political fodder.

But then, who knows what will be termed as “politically incorrect” when these kids become old enough to vote?

If you go into politics understand that you have no friends and that anything you have ever done will be held against you. And make no mistake: somebody will go back to your days in kindergarten to dig it up.

Before this is over, Virginia might be soliciting applicants for governor on the street.

If they ask me, I must recuse myself. In the fifth grade, I must admit that I got a Mohawk haircut and dyed my hair black to play the part of an Indian in a school play. And I have one friend who has never let me forget it.

But then I am part Indian so maybe that’s OK.

No matter; I don’t want the job.

Friends in high places? When you get to high places, you don’t have any true friends.

​Donnie Johnston:

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