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Political Ethics

Our Ethics
Political Ethics
What's in Our Core?

Posted on May 24,2010

Thoughts that I wanted to put on paper are about the reasons some of us classify ourselves either as a Liberal or a Conservative.

Both Democrats and Republicans try to paint an entire party as bad or sleazy because a person in the opposite party demonstrates a lack of character. Politicians love to ‘get dirt’ on the opposition. It harkens back to the old cliché that reads something like, “By making you look bad, (somehow)I look like a hero.”

Three reasons that sway our opinions are:

  • Misconduct in office.
  • Human Failings
  • Dishonesty

If you use one of these less than admirable traits to base your reason for a particular philosophy, you are a very narrow minded person.

For some illogical reason, castigation of one particular person and creating guilt by association with that person’s party seems to work. A whole party’s reputation can be diminished by the actions of one individual.

I hate comparisons for point making but in this case the garden comparison is apropos. “If you have a garden and find a weed, the correct action is to remove the weed and tend the rest. It certainly makes no sense to plow up the whole garden because of a weed or to just reclassify the weed as a new vegetable.” For gardeners, keeping weeds out of a garden is a constant battle. Well, politicians could learn from a gardener. If an onion is in the petunia patch, get rid of it.

Saul Alinsky had it right when he declared that you could use any high standards espoused by your opponents against them – Christianity or other ideal sentiments is impossible for anybody to live by. Democrats use the teachings of Alinsky to club the Republicans and it has worked like a charm.

The Republicans and Democrats use different techniques when it comes to dealing with misbehavior by party members. Republicans distance themselves from the offender as if he/she was a pariah. As with Newt Gingrich, Tom Foley, Tom Delay, and others found to have their hand in the ethical cookie jar. Democrats however, circle the wagons around their misbehavers and do not weed them out. Barney Frank, Bill Clinton, Chris Dodd, and cold cash Jefferson come to mind as instances where Democrats protected their miscreants.

But then the ‘circle the wagon’ approach is reasonable since the Democrats do not espouse high ideals. Their ‘big tent’ approach for political power is not able to set any real standards of ethics. Rules of ethical behavior would disrupt the unity among the disparate groups that make up the Democratic Party.

Although neither Party dominates in the area of ethical behavior, it is the Republicans that suffer the most from their wrongdoers. That is specifically because the Republicans publically claim themselves to be a Party of ethical purity. When a person decries thievery and is then caught being a thief, it makes him not only a thief but a hypocrite as well. Since the Democrats make no such claims to purity of character, hypocrisy is not one of the charges that can be leveled at them.

Back to the garden analogy, it can be accurately stated that the Republicans weed their garden while the Democrats recast their weeds as a new variety of vegetable. (I hate stupid analogies.) I like the way the Republicans handle their wayward individuals. It sets an example for behavior and possibly encourages those who might also engage in bad behavior a little incentive to not go down that path.

The Democrats however, do not encourage others from bad behavior. The high esteem that should be emanating from those in positions of leadership has been tarnished by the Democrats and the damage to society noted. Recent polling indicates that Congress now ranks below car salesmen in trustworthiness.

In closing, none of us are saints. We all have our warts and festers but try not to highlight them in our everyday existence. In fact most of us try very hard to control those traits which are deemed to be not acceptable. If we could only teach that to our politicians, we would go a long way at solving problems in society.



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