Tag: integrity

Does Political Integrity Exist in American Politics?

By Joshua D. Glawson | United States

Throughout the political world, a lack of integrity is often fostered for particular party agendas and cronyism more than for the actual, or even perceived, betterment of their respective constituents. These ethical inconsistencies tend to serve companies via cronyism and coercive monopolies, fill the pockets of politicians, get politicians reelected, and help to raise more funding for the political parties-but they can also harm other people. Rather than staying true to a principled ideology such as a Non-Aggression Principle, many politicians do what is seen as best for themselves and those they work closely with rather than the people the politician is meant to be “working for.”

Just What Is Political Integrity?

‘Integrity’ is touted as a value everyone should have, especially a good politician, if they even exist. For some reason, the word ‘integrity’ has shifted in meaning to something more of a strong moral uprightness that never sways from its subjective stance. We typically say that someone has integrity when they tell the truth about something even when it could hurt them, or when someone treats everyone with respect and dignity. Is this correct?

The word ‘integrity’ originates from the Latin word ‘integritatem’ meaning “soundness, wholeness, completeness,” and figuratively it means “purity, correctness, and/or blamelessness.” However, there is more to the word than simply being whole, or pure, in only a circumstance or two, it suggests that the person is consistently integral. In this sense, when someone is consistent, they are said to be standing firm after taking a position, while not ceasing or bending. The word ‘integrity’ has the same core meaning as ‘integer,’ meaning “intact, whole, and/or complete,” while figuratively it means “untainted, and/or upright.”

A Need for Consistency

Therefore, in order to have integrity, one must be consistent in their actions, not compartmentalized or fractioned, while appealing to a higher, nobler, moral standard or ethic. A person with integrity acts in respect to these principles equally throughout their personal life with everyone. So, can a politician have integrity?

In short, yes, a politician can have integrity, but it is much more difficult than what the mass public would like to impart. For a politician to be integral, they must be consistent in their higher moral or ethical stance and not differentiate or sway on that standing depending on the situation. Unfortunately, many people who claim the title of being politically-minded, whether layman or politician, will vary on their so-called principled stance depending on the situation they find themselves in.

Uncommon in American Politics

For example, an American politician will go to great lengths when speaking out against innocent lives being lost within the US, but when it comes to other deaths in other countries they remain silent. Better yet, many help to pass bills that just further the military complex. The same figurative politician may even explicitly state that they do not believe in war or the military industrial complex, while simultaneously implicitly helping to pass bills that provide more benefits for soldiers and military personnel, which in turn incentivizes perpetual growth of the military and the supposedly disdained war hawk behavior.

Even more commonly, the same politician will speak against theft between citizens, yet also advocate for government laws that coerce businesses and individuals, in general, to give to others as a form of “redistribution,” making it plunder of the highest degree. In each of these, the politician is not being consistent in their self-professed ideology, thusly contradicting and fractioned, making the politician lack integrity.

A Universal Ideal

Of course, the concept of ‘integrity’ applies to all people within each of our lives, not just in politics. The best way to self-assess whether you are being integral is to not only consider the consequences of your actions, but also the process by which you came to the consequence. It is also beneficial to discuss your ideologies and philosophy with others that can challenge or help to strengthen your understanding. Consider these ideas and ask yourself the following:

  • Am I harming or threatening to harm myself or others with my actions?
  • Do I appeal to a moral or ethical standard that does not infringe on the negative rights of others?
  • Am I consistent in how I treat people in a moral or ethical manner?
  • Do I act completely different around various people in order for them to like me, approve of me, or to not witness my alternate characteristics?

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Sarah Huckabee Sanders Should be Eating at The Little Red Hen

By Kaihua Zhou | United States

Is it reasonable to serve someone on the basis on their political affiliation?  Stephanie Wilkinson, a Virginia restaurant owner, argues that it is. Wilkinson’s decision to refuse to serve White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders remains controversial. While her motives may have been noble, her choice demonstrates considerable moral confusion.

Wilkinson informed Sanders that “the restaurant has certain standards … such as honesty, cooperation, and compassion.”  In her eyes, Sanders had violated those standards through her involvement in the Trump administration.  Wilkinson’s line of reasoning appears valid. If you feel a public official is corrupt, you have every right to challenge them. Ana Navarro, a CNN commentator, argues that Wilkinson’s choice was courageous. According to her, Sarah Huckabee Sanders is “an accomplice to this cruel, deceitful administration.”  Thus, there is no distinction in her mind between Sanders’ moral qualities her political actions.

Approaching a government official and tacitly accusing them of dishonesty and brutality is hardly unique. What is unique in Wilkinson’s case is that her challenge came through denying her restaurant’s service. In her view, serving Sanders would make her an accomplice as well. Consequently, to her, refusing service is an act of personal integrity, showing her commitment to compassion and cooperation. The principle is generally sound.

The moral confusion, however, lies in the application. If we accept the argument that Sanders is  an accomplice to brutality, who else is? How would Wilkinson recognize them? 45 percent of Virginians voted for President Trump. Are they complicit in the administration’s alleged brutality? While they did not deliver Virginia’s electoral votes for Trump, it was through their ( and similarly like-minded individuals) efforts that Trump gained office. Should Wilkinson refuse to serve them? If so, she must turn away about half of her state’s residents. Perhaps she can determine that they, despite their politics, are moral people. Perhaps they sinned in ignorance.

If Americans did not recognize Trump’s character in 2016, they have a better understanding now. 41.9% of Americans continue to approve of President Trump’s policies. Are they complicit in Trump’s accused inhumanity? Are they in harmony with Wilkinson’s moral standards? If so, she again must kick out about half of her fellow citizens.  Such an outcome would be completely unreasonable.  Should Wilkinson and her fellow workers personally ask each of their customers if they support Trump? If so, they would find that many of their customers do not fit their standards.

Of course, having strong moral standards is a solid principle. Wilkinson’s folly, however, is confusing her moral standards with political standards. Are honesty, compassion, and cooperation measured by politics alone? No.  There are many honest, compassionate conservatives, liberals, independents, and everything else.

Is Wilkinson in a position to judge Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ qualities? Once again, the simple answer is no. While Sanders is a public figure, Wilkinson does not know her.  Instead, she judges her based on her political affiliation.  It is an unreasonable choice.  There are many reasonable ways to challenge public officials for policies. Refusing to serve based on limited knowledge of someone’s character is not one of them.

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