Saturday, August 9, 2014

The Politics Of Morality. ( Part 1)

Before starting, to understand the politics of morality, one must have a clear definition of morality. According to,  morality is the conformity to the rules of right conduct; moral or virtuous conduct. Morality often is acquainted with the moral quality and character of a person. Then, of course, a virtue in sexual matters; chastity. In America, there has long been a doctrine or system of morals. Who sets these standards and rules of morals? And, how have these moralities infiltrated themselves into our political system?

The Politics of Morality.

Some argue that morality is in the eye of the beholder. That its and individuals choice. That individual's act according to their standards. And, through these actions affect others and is thus political. Politics, however, is public. By collective public governance, "We the People," determine policies, and these polices dictate to the individual a code of acceptable behavior thus politics affects the individual. So, in this writers view, it's fair to conclude that morality connects an individual to politics. Politics matters. Politics causes an individual to form opinions. And, through these opinions, which become public, legislation is drafted that impacts back to the individual. 

Morality Dominates Issues In Modern Day Politics.  

America has always quibbled over issues like foreign affairs, health care, economics, and taxes. However, in the modern day sphere of politics moral flash-point issues such as abortion, stem-cell research, and gay rights seem to have become the rallying points for the political parties to muster their supporters. These issues are always presented as moral ones. All of this raises questions. Has this shift in political focus been good for the American people? Moreover, is shaping public polices by these elements of morality healthy for  politics?

Where Does Morality Come From?

Morality has always been an element in American politics. Morality's role in politics evolved as morality itself evolved. In these modern times, morality has evolved from religion. Nowadays, political parties deem themselves the party of the heavens. Religious, political factions run rampart in modern day politics not only in America, but; around the world. These pious politicians and clergymen proclaim their message is from Jehovah God himself. That following this message puts our country in the realm of the will of God. Many in America feel that our country was organized, and the authority of government rested upon certain beliefs, practices, institutional principles and social norms that are religiously based and can be called morality. It is because of this reality that morality continues to play a major role in our modern day politics. Case in point. In a recent article published in a Republican Party house member sent every congressperson a Bible to guide their decision making.

Rep. Steven Palazzo, (R-MS)

Separation of church and state, anyone?

"When a politician calls for using the Bible as the basis for public policy, what he or she is really saying is, 'Let's use the Bible as I interpret it as the basis for public policy," "When it comes to religion, our nation is pluralistic and diverse. Rather than look to the Bible or any other religious book to craft our nation's public policy, we would do well to examine another source instead, one that was created to guide governance. It's called the Constitution." [Source: Barry Lynn-Executive Director with Americans United for the separation of church and state]

These type of stories inundate our daily news in modern day politics. It's these type stories that has changed moralities role. From this writer's perspective, the authority, legitimacy, and power of any elected official comes from We The People. Since, we the people, use a standard of morals to set a code for social behavior morality can be and is often used as a tool for keeping our elected officials and clergymen in check.

With the rise of capitalism in a democratic society, modern politics matured into a discourse of economic considerations. In which, personal virtues such as honesty, charity and fairness, which were essential in the past are now secondary and much seems to be taken for granted in our political sphere today, in terms of character. In modern day politics, it seems implicit, there is an implied " contract of confidence," that a person in public service is moral and it becomes explosively explicit when that confidence is breached. Then, we see the person's political enemies come out of the woodwork. We see former allies turn tail and run. We see media pounce like a hungry pack of wolves. Morality that was secondary, now; becomes the main issues for we the people. A good example of this reality was the Nixon Watergate scandal.


Individual morality has long formed the basis for political legitimacy and a precondition to good governance. However, as we have seen develop in America in earnest since the late 70's and more so in the early 80's a manifestation of group morality based on religion in which public policy should be shaped cause a deep and growing polarization of the citizenry. We have witness political and religious faction spring up with their pious proclamations that their mindsets have the " consent of the heavens," and following them is the will of God and is "Godly governance." We have experienced political candidates using their so-called morality as political tools to win popular approval and basis for political legitimacy. However, in practice, morality has taken a backseat to economic issues, foreign issues, tax issues, and is only used when a politician has been caught with their " hand in the cookie jar." This has been moralities evolution in modern day politics. This evolution has led to extremism in our political parties and as we will cover in [The Politics of Morality-Part 2] a political divide in our nation.

Written By: Johnny Hill

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