Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Twitter Political Question of the Week: How Much Emphasis Should Voters Place on a Politician's Moral Compass?

Interesting political question this week from @CLSteadley and @esBzly.

How much emphasis should voters place on a politician's moral compass?

My answer... it does depend on the situation...

Example 1: Let's say we have someone like Newt Gingrich (R-GA), who for years has preached morality among politicians and leaders in public life. Yet, he had an affair while he was impeaching Bill Clinton. He found a creative way to explain his multiple divorces. Lots of skeletons with old Newt. But, you know, when you preach morality, you better live up to it... and so any voter should indeed hold Newt to a high moral standard... which he clearly has not lived up to... and doesn't really deserve anyone's vote if he runs for political office ever again.

Example 2: History will always have ethical debates on the morality of Harry Truman's bomb of Hiroshima (via Henry Stimson, his Defense Secretary) in Japan during World War II. Some say that Japan was ready to surrender, but maybe only on a conditional basis. Allied commanders wanted an unconditional surrender. This, however, was not acceptable to the Japanese. A nuclear bomb can cause a hell of a lot of damage... we all know this... and the United States eventually dropped two... one on Hiroshima on August 7, 1945 and one on Nagasaki on August 9, 1945 (70,000 and 80,000 Japanese lives were lost in both cases). Japan surrendered about a week later. Truman's argument was that World War II would end more quickly and less lives would be lost... (I'm guessing a couple of million lives would have been lost if the Allied Commanders would endorsed a ground invasion in Japan). Dropping the atomic bomb in Japan was probably the most difficult decision any President has had to make in this country (the decision was painful for Truman... wasn't easy at all)... a nuclear bomb can cause massive destruction... but Truman made the right decision... You can see more on the Truman decision here (my brief synopsis in this post came from some of those documents). One could say that the Truman decision made the thought of nuclear war some unbearable that no one would want it again... so I think voters rewarded him with a second term because of his moral compass.

There are several possible examples here in other areas of political life... what's your take?

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