Recent events have given us plenty of reasons to doubt the character of our political leaders.
The allegations of sexual assault and harassment against Roy Moore played a crucial part in his campaign, Democratic Senator Al Franken has resigned due to accusations of sexual assault, and more general claims of sexual misconduct by members of Congress have also been made.
Both of the primary contenders in the previous election, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, have had serious legal allegations made against them, although the jury is still out on both.
Past presidents have not escaped this either – Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush each have their own high profile sexual assault allegations and the problem is not confined to the USA; here in New Zealand the leader of the Conservative Party was found to have been sexually harassing his press secretary.
We repeatedly see high ranking politicians acting in ways we would all agree is immoral and inappropriate.
This lack of moral character doesn’t seem to be bound by political or religious beliefs, by borders, or any other measurable characteristic. However, all of them raise the same concern.
What is the acceptable moral standard to which we can hold our politicians? The answer to this question is highly evasive.
Some might argue that a leader’s moral character is irrelevant to their ability to lead. But can we really say that we have no moral expectations of the people who have such great control over our lives? Should we not be concerned by their lack of integrity, or natural inclinations to abuse power?
Others may believe that democracy is a sufficient standard. If a majority of voters support someone, that is a high enough societal standard.
However, the countless examples of elected officials abusing their power would seem to be in conflict with this idea, and the two-party system in the USA exacerbates the problem. Someone might have clear deficiencies in their character, but they are still seen as the lesser of two evils.
I would argue instead, that there is no acceptable standard for such a role. How morally upright does someone need to be to have the right to steal as much of your money as they like through taxation?
How virtuous must someone be before they draft you or your children into the military against your will? How holy should someone be before they are given the right to kill civilians around the world? The examples could go on endlessly, but the point remains the same.
Across the world, humans have created systems where power is given to politicians in greater doses than can be reasonably handled.
We have concentrated greater and greater power into smaller groups of leaders. History gives us countless examples of the disasters this can lead to, and yet so many learn nothing.
If we continue to give politicians such great power, we will continue to see it being abused. Whether this is in the form of sexual assault, continued wars, or crony handouts, we will constantly be disappointed by our leaders’ character, and the media will continue to feign surprise and disbelief.
It is time we seriously address the fact that no human is perfect. No one has lived their life in such a way as to place themselves above everyone else. We must each take responsibility for our own character, instead of placing our faith in politicians. They have failed as a moral compass, and they will continue to do so.
Governments do not reduce human immorality, they magnify it.
We must stand against the power of government and the damage caused by corrupt people who seek to grasp that power.
The individual politicians are not the root of the problem, they are the visible symptoms. If we cut them off, equally corrupt people will take their places.
The underlying problem is the system that promotes abuse. Modern governments reward self-seeking and controlling behavior, and attract many of the most corrupt among us. The governmental system is the heart of the problem, and it must be addressed.
* Ryan Green works in media production in Auckland, New Zealand, and is strongly pro-liberty and personal freedom. You can follow him on Twitter @RyanGreen_NZ
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