An issue not going away is ethics reform that is needed in government. Following this election cycle, we heard from people as they evaluate the reality of many incumbents losing. We are finding more people willing to express their lack of trust in elected lawmakers.
There has always been a certain level of distrust for any who serve over long years in elective office. Trust is earned, and once a reason is found to distrust a person, that trust level is hard to build up again. This is true in the business, education, and church world. It is hard to restore trust when a person or company has proven to be unethical in their treatment of others or by bending the rules in their favor, pushed the envelope their way instead of unbiased fairness.
At every level of government there are committees set up to review questionable practices. Generally speaking, these committees deal with inner office personnel issues on the local level. At the state level, there are government appointed and funded ethics commissions, as well as public policy forums tracking the daily activity of elected officials. Each level of government has rules by which the elected lawmakers are to adhere. It seems there is a Congressional oversight committee for every phase of government, even personal behavior. There have been a few times over the long history of government when the behavior of elected officials has been so outrageous it required being corrected.
Few of us like being corrected, especially if is done publicly. However, the only way trust can be restored in lawmakers is for the citizens to know that those who are making decisions about the lawbreaker’s behavior are doing so in full view of the people and with the people’s best interest in mind. It is not the offender’s best interest that is to be protected when it is determined that rules are broken.
As long as I have been expressing my views in writing, there is not a subject generating as much interest as the issue of ethics and how we expect our lawmakers to behave. I have been requested to respond to the word that certain national freshmen lawmakers went skinny dipping in the Sea of Galilee. Shameful is the word that comes to mind. I was asked to respond to the senseless word usage of a candidate in Missouri concerning “legitimate rape.” Mindless is the word that I use to describe such a statement. Others have insisted that I must have an opinion about the decision of the punishment for a long serving state senator from Gwinnett County who admitted to ethical violations. This issue is not settled and until it is, there will be lingering and continuing voices calling for real, genuine, and meaningful ethical reform at the state level.
From where I stand, trust will be restored when the citizens see serious reform policies on ethics and the policies will then be followed to the letter.
Follow Ray Newman on Twitter: @RayNewmanSr