A British historian originally wrote: “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad man.” (Lord Acton 1834-1902). Over many years, the quote of Lord Acton has been used in many political speeches. The message of the quote has also been used by activists to explain why it is important to have checks and balances in the political world.
Having ethical standards to which all people in elective office must be held accountable is vital for our freedoms. The questions that arise in the current climate of the actions of the powerful in office must be considered. Some of the questions will be listed below. What should be the standard for the ethical behavior of people serving in political office? Who says what is right or wrong in the political world? Does giving unlimited trust create a climate for corruption? Is full disclosure on every issue too much to demand? Does the power of the political world corrupt the politicians or are they already corrupt when they go into office? We could continue with our questions until we fill a page, but the reality of what is happening at all levels of the political world is that power hungry people are being placed in positions for which they are not prepared and they are easy to control by promises of money and more power being sent their way.
Taxpaying, law-abiding citizens must remain diligent in holding elected officials to be accountable for every decision they make in the full light of public view. Backroom deals where only power brokers are present should never be allowed by the voting public. The voting public has been led to believe that executive sessions of political bodies deal only with personnel and land acquisition issues. If that is true, why are we seeing so much corruption related to land purchases? What is wrong with full disclosure on every vote as to the owner of the land, the developer of the land and the planned use of the land once purchased by the political body? Who benefits from land swap deals?
There are people who remind us that corruption in the political system has always been around and we are seeing no more or less of corruption today. While that could be true, it does not mean the voting public needs to tolerate corruption from elected officials at whatever level they are serving. Looking the other way and allowing for the “good old boy system,” only serves to continue the corruption being exposed now.
From where I stand, we must be informed about the person and the positions of the candidates. We must hold the elected person accountable to the people. We must vote out the bad apples and vote in the people with the desire to serve the community. It is true that anyone can be tempted, but the principled person will be willing to serve the community and not self.
Follow Ray Newman on Twitter @RayNewmanSr