Accountability in Politics

Jeff Kurtz: We currently have a political system that hides its displaced loyalties and corruption under layers of bureaucratic complexities and a society that apparently is not suffering enough to challenge the status quo and hold our politicians accountable. As a result, we have cultivated a political bureaucracy that encourages the wrong types of persons to become public office holders for the wrong reasons.

The consequences of every human act ripple throughout our world, good or bad, great or small, known or unknown to their originators. The act cannot be undone, and its repercussions leave their marks upon the world for all eternity. For these reasons, wielding power over the fate of many should come with a heavy price.

“With great power comes great accountability.”

Our political leaders, government legislators and others whose decisions influence the welfare of a nation must always be held to high standards. Policies, procedures, and practices should be established that cause them to take care of their decision-making. They must never take their positions lightly. And proven acts of severe negligence should always be cause for dismissal.

Every worthwhile moral goal promotes the greatest common good, and any human law that serves a particular demographic by definition does not abide by the moral law. So let’s be clear. Any public policy or law passed by Congress that opposes the general welfare of people is not only unjust, it is also immoral. Lobbyists and receptive politicians who exchange money, gifts or perks of any kind for political favor, now or promised in the future, participate in acts of bribery—a crime punishable in a manner that will deter such behavior.

The problem, of course, is that politicians hide their corrupt activities behind layers of bureaucratic complexities. And it is difficult for laypersons that are busy with their own lives to do the exhaustive research necessary to hold our politicians accountable. For this reason, we need a transparent political party that cares more about serving people than winning elections, a party that has a constitution founded on moral principles, and a party that holds itself accountable for abiding by these principles.

It is the duty of the citizens of a democratic society to hold its public servants strictly accountable for their decisions and behavior. And it is the moral obligation of governing bodies to create the policies, procedures, and practices that they themselves must work through to make themselves transparent and hold themselves accountable. Clearly, any political system that fails to include these required arrangements will not be impervious to corruption in a sustainable manner.

Yet US citizens have very low standards for selecting political candidates. We choose politicians, not public servants. Politics doesn’t attract good people because it’s not expected nor demanded by our society. As a result, our government has become so corrupt that selfless and compassionate human beings who find themselves in politics are ostracized by their self-serving peers.

It’s time we elect virtuous, honorable and morally responsible people into political offices; people who are motivated to leave lasting legacies that improve our world rather than by money, power or fame. And it’s time to hold our political leaders strictly accountable for honoring their commitments to the people they serve, for exercising moral will and wisdom, and for consistently promoting well-being that favors the common good.

If our politicians are held to such high standards, over time they will learn to comply. But first, it is our responsibility to make these standards known, and to accomplish this in a manner that is specific, clear and thorough.

Those who serve in government should represent the best of our human character. They should model the behavior we wish to encourage in our citizens. And they should inspire us to apply the practical application of moral will and wisdom in pursuit of our most noble causes.