Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Infidelity and Politics: Does it Matter?

The blog article “Presidential Morality” discusses a prevalent issue regarding presidential hopefuls. Is marital infidelity relevant when choosing a president? The blog recognizes presidents are role models and in that sense, held more accountable than the average Joe. In contrast, the blog also proposes marital fidelity and leadership abilities are not integrally related. Thus, a president can be a philanderer and a successful public servant. I see both sides of the argument, however, image is a critical component to becoming an elected officially and remaining a successful one.

The majority of Americans have a minimal working knowledge of presidential candidates’ political track record. Considering this, most Americans vote in part, based on the presupposed character of a presidential candidate. This brings us to what qualities are important in a leader. Two that particularly relevant are character and integrity. A person of character is marked by moral excellence. Integrity is defined as “the integration of outward actions and inner values.” Someone’s character and integrity are integral components of his personality and not indistinguishable from his actions. Yes, someone may be able to hide her true nature for a time but a façade cannot be maintained indefinitely. For this reason, a public official’s character and outward expression of his character do matter. Granted, the issue is not as black and white as the latter indicates. Other factors, such as the length of infidelity and how recent are important as well. Nonetheless, the fact still remains, Americans want to be able to trust those who represent us and act on our behalf. Thus, a pristine record and character are important. I would also argue Americans do not hold presidents or other public officials to higher standards than other leaders, such as bosses, or the average employee. All employees are expected to conduct themselves morally and ethically (as depicted in employee contracts, procedures, policies and employee handbooks). Yes, there is a greater distinction between private and public for the average American; however, we aren’t making monumental decisions that impact the whole Nation as is the case with public officials. Thus, it is fair for public officials and hopefuls to be evaluated more critically than most Americans. With power comes great responsibility.    

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