Ethics & Politicians


How Politicians Behave Counts, Too


Our political leaders are social role models, whether they like it or not. How they conduct their public affairs–how they behave–sets the tone for the citizenry. Our political leaders, as is the case with public figures in the entertainment world, validate public behavior; whatever they do, we citizens are entitled to emulate. Far more significant, our elected officials are moral agents, too; they stand for issues, make decisions, and formulate policies that deal with matters of right and wrong.

So, what set of values may we apply to the behavior of our elected officials? Just as we need criteria to evaluate the reasons, motives, and conduct of our military wars, it is also essential to have moral expectations about our politicians. How do we hold them accountable? Is it enough that they abstain from violating the laws they have sworn to uphold? What about their behavior throughout the course of their terms in office as well as when they run for office? The Constitution, lest we forget, does not decree a specific code of ethics for our politicians; such is our role. This section offers criteria of ethical politics that, I hope, might lead to an improvement in the moral climate in national, state, and local politics.