A special election has rarely done so much to earn its title. In a quieter year, Tuesday's contest for the House seat in Georgia's 6th district would be the proverbial blip on our national radar. But thanks to President Trump and his own newly acquired title, a super-charged Democratic base pushed Jon Ossoff to the brink of outright victory. Falling just shy of the 50 percent threshold needed to avoid a runoff, Ossoff will now face Republican candidate Karen Handel one-on-one in June.
Given that this is Ossoff's first political run, getting to know his outlook on today's issues is of paramount importance. Those stances have zero connection to when 30-year-old Ossoff gets hitched. He shouldn't be fielding questions about when he plans to pop the question.
This is not to argue that the personal lives of politicians are never relevant. The private behavior of those with power can have enormous repercussions. To take one example, if a politician cheats on their partner, that information could be used as blackmail. Here's another: one's choice of friends is anot-so-irrelevant a predictor of one's own character.
From a broader perspective, Chris Cillizza points out at The Washington Post that a focus on the personal in political journalism is necessary:
The intense focus on understanding who these people really are — and comparing that to the image they and their campaign are putting out — matters when tasked with educating the public about the critically important choice of who will lead the country.
This humanizing of our politicians is a practice that dates back pretty much to the Revolution, what with Americans' innate fear of anything that seemed too monarchical.
So why let Ossoff off the hook? For starters, when a person gets married is not a plus or minus in any character column. It's a completely neutral factor. We currently have a president who has thrice been married. America twice elected a bachelor POTUS, and we've sent plenty of unmarried folks to Washington, D.C.
But more importantly, whether or not Ossoff proposes at all is none of anyone's current business. After all, it could be Ossoff's girlfriend who doesn't want to be married right now. Maybe neither one of them "believes" in marriage. At 30 years young, it's not as if Ossoff needs to be in a rush to the altar. And let's not forget the storm of outrage that would follow a media encounter like this if Ossoff were a woman.
All of this is just speculation, but since the question has been asked, it's worthwhile to consider all the reasons that it never should have been brought up. With Ossoff headed to a runoff, what matters for voters is knowing more about his experience and policy standpoints, not his timeline for putting a ring on it.