Friday, February 12, 2016

Watch the Campaigns . . .

Stumbled across this ethical gem this week while reading "Breach of Faith: The Fall of Richard Nixon," by Theodore White:

In a campaign there is no conflict between ends and means. The end is to win victory, and, as in war, the means do not matter -- deception, lying, intelligence operations are common in all campaigns; a campaign is no place for squeamish men. But what happens, said one of Richard Nixon's advance men of 1960 long afterward in 1974, what happens when the advance men become government? "What happens when they all sit in the same room in Washington and the President trusts them and nobody is squeamish, nobody is there to say, Wait a minute, is it right or wrong?"

Obviously, we know what happens: For Richard Nixon's presidency, this meant immediately falling into the skullduggery of dirty tricks that led to Watergate and, ultimately, his resignation.

So when you look at our current political climate, our current candidates, the current campaigns they're running -- can anyone say they're lily-white? I say we get the government we deserve because we pretend the campaigning before the governing doesn't matter -- when indeed it does matter, as we see what character our candidates have by what company they keep and by what they allow to happen in their campaigns. Some try to insulate themselves from the action of political action committees -- look it's them doing that, not us. But by stopping at hand-wringing, their condemnation of the skullduggery of others comes off as only approval by brushing off the responsibility.

Any candidate who condones ignoring the means for the end, whether the means are brought about by their own campaign or through the actions of others, is guilty of at minimum displaying naivete and poor judgement -- neither of which are ideal qualities I want to see in government -- or brutish dishonesty that I have trouble believing will be eliminated once the end of winning the election is achieved. I won't want governors who are naive, who express poor judgment, or who believe dishonesty is the best policy. I have no interest in voting for such a candidate.

So what's a voter to do? Fiddle while Rome burns? That doesn't work. Read media reports about the candidates? Well, maybe. But our increasingly polarized media doesn't report on everything and on a national level conceals just as much as the candidates do. I see little appeal to researching candidates to discover who is the best to choose.

Do I vote a party line? Not when parties do the same unethical acts as the candidates they loathe or the candidates they espouse -- there is so much of "Do as I say, not as I do" in politicking.

I don't know what to do. Any ideas? Astor Clement probably has a few . . .

Probably the best place to start is to see who is running an honest campaign. But who can be honest about telling me who is honest? Honestly, I don't know.

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