Rep. Radel Needs To Resign

 

'Bye.

‘Bye.

From the New York Times:

“Representative Trey Radel, Republican of Florida, pleaded guilty on Wednesday to a misdemeanor charge stemming from his purchase of cocaine here last month.He was sentenced to one year of probation. According to documents released by prosecutors, the federal authorities learned this fall that Mr. Radel, a freshman legislator, had bought cocaine on several occasions for his own use in Washington and had sometimes shared it with others.”

In marked contrast to that other cocaine-using public official to the north, Congressman Radel cooperated with police, has said all the right things, and has taken full responsibility for his actions. Now all that is left for him to do is resign. Law makers must not be law breakers. He can be as contrite and sincere as the sky is blue, but every second he remains in his office, he disgraces and sullies his position and his nation.

He can begin a much-needed trend, and re-establish the principle of accountability for elected officials. And he should look on the bright side. On “House of Cards,” the Netflix political drama starring Kevin Spacey, when a Congressman belonging to his party resumed his cocaine habit, House Majority Whip Spacey murdered him.

Now that’s strict.

30 thoughts on “Rep. Radel Needs To Resign

    • While your larger point is well taken, Filner did get his party mentioned a lot, because he had also been a Democratic Congressman. Also, one would assume that the mayor of certain California cities would be Democratic, wouldn’t you? I mean, Lincoln was a Democrat, right?

      • Of course he was! Because of the great ideological flip flop that needed to be fabricated to assuage democrat guilt over slavery, Jim Crow and segregation occurred precisely at 12:36 on 18 April 1968 when all the Democrats had became the defenders of happiness, puppies, tastey food, liberty, chocolate and children and Republicans then became slave owning, wife beating, immigrant hating, anti-liberty, puppy-kickers.

        Lincoln was actually the first to propose Obamacare in 1862 and Jefferson Davis vowed “by God I hate poor people!”

  1. Depending on how he behaves from here on, maybe Radel will provide your next Unethical Rationalization.

    I am thinking “The Potential Pioneer’s Excuse,” – a spin-off of a combination of “Everybody Does It” and “There Are Worse Things:” A person who avoids accountability, and who rejects the full consequences of accountability for an unethical act, by taking a position of, “Why should *I* be the one who makes an example of himself? Why should *I* be the first to suffer consequences, when so many more do the same thing and get away without suffering?”

    That relates a little bit to the persecution complex I might feel, and how I might think, if I was pulled over for speeding while driving amidst a cluster of other speeders. I might think: “Why am *I* being singled out? Why should *I* have to pay a fine for this, when so many others are speeding right along with me (and so many more are speeding by even faster than I did while I stand still here, kept from going my way, for this futile, revenue-grabbing police action)? How likely is any punishment I receive for this going to cause *me* not do the same thing again? How likely is any punishment I receive for this going to cause anyone *else* not do the same thing again? What’s the point of my doing only what I “should,” only to miss out on doing what I *can* like everyone else does, when nobody else is doing what they “should” do anyway?”

    • By now, you should be expecting that I would relate this guy Radel to the Ferris Bueller movie. Time will tell if Radel employs the “Jeanie Bueller Rationalization” (Jeanie, being the sister of Ferris) – with an attitude something like Jeanie’s: “Why should I resign when everybody else gets to stay in office?” Jeanie asked something like, “Why should everybody else have to go to school while he [Ferris] gets to ditch school?”

      • It also potentially includes a hint of the king’s pass or at least an “I’m above the law”.

        Any elected officially might, I’m not sure in this case, feel they deserve special consideration or extra mercy because “hey, I was elected to do a job. We can’t let a little slip up derail that”

      • Jack, this is just another brainstorm to capture the essence of the rationalization precisely, free of connection to movies or ethics pioneers.

        How about: “The ‘I’m Wrong, But I’m Wronged If I’m Punished’ Dodge?”

  2. One politician, on being accused of being a moron, rebutted that there were a lot of morons out there who also deserved representation; it was a strong counter, though it may not be stronger than the other side of the question. The same applies here.

    Aside: I really don’t like the common construct of A saying that B needs to do such and such, when it is really A that needs, or maybe only wants, B to do it, e.g. a policeman saying “sir, you need to get out of the car”.

  3. This issue got me thinking. Let me first state that I do not condone the purchase, use or sale of cocaine or any other CDS, I am struggling with the concept of holding people to a higher standard while also believing that these elected representatives are our employees.

    If we elevate them to a position that imputes a higher standard of behavior does that not create within them a belief that they are somehow different than everyone else? I do not think so because if they were different they could also consider themselves above the law If they are our “servants” shouldn’t we hold ourselves to a higher standard for putting someone in office that is unfit? That being said, if he represented my district I have the right to vote him out when we learn of such misdeeds. Calls for his resignation can be used by those that disagree politically with him and not specifically for the infraction to which he has pleaded guilty.

    If we are a nation of laws and not men, are we entitled to make demands on anyone that are not codified in law? I don’t think so. This issue has been raised before, so why have we not demanded legislation that provides for immediate removal of an elected official for committing a misdemeanor? Are we elevating the crime above that which it has been determined to be because most of us would not engage in that behavior? Would we demand the same resignation for someone duly convicted of a crime that carries an equal or greater judicial penalty such as DUI or leaving his or her pet in a locked car during a hot summer afternoon? Some might say the consequences of the latter are greater than the consequence of him altering his brain with a CDS.

    If we would not demand a resignation for a different misdemeanor for something that we could ourselves be charged with at some time then we should not demand a resignation for an offense that we would never be charged with. In other words, we should not cast stones unless we are willing to be stoned ourselves (no pun intended) for equally punishable, but different offenses.

    This site has some amazing links such as The Lucifer Effect. There you can find imagery of the effects of mob rule. My point is simply, if there are ways to legally punish an offending elected official then we should use them and not gin up public outcries for a person to resign from office. The electorate shall make the appropriate decision.

      • Thank you.- But I could not develop my thoughts without the thoughtful assistance of others. You all make me think rather than simply react.

      • “I am struggling with the concept of holding people to a higher standard while also believing that these elected representatives are our employees.”

        Clear your mind of the premise that they are our ’employees’. That is based off of a platitude that mischaracterizes the relationship — something along the lines of “they are our civil servants”. They are not. They are our periodically & temporarily elected legislators and leaders. That right there says “hold to a higher standard”.

        “If we elevate them to a position that imputes a higher standard of behavior does that not create within them a belief that they are somehow different than everyone else?”

        No, the cultural flaws of excessive narcissism that have grown in our nation as well as the alarming trend of our people towards being a “great man” or “strong man” culture engenders those attitudes amongst the elected.

        “I do not think so because if they were different they could also consider themselves above the law If they are our “servants” shouldn’t we hold ourselves to a higher standard for putting someone in office that is unfit?”

        They aren’t our servants. They represent the law. They cannot therefore be above (separate) from the law.

        “Calls for his resignation can be used by those that disagree politically with him and not specifically for the infraction to which he has pleaded guilty. “

        Of course they can. But that’s no reason not to stop legitimate calls for resignation as well.

        “If we are a nation of laws and not men, are we entitled to make demands on anyone that are not codified in law? I don’t think so.”

        How is expecting a leader to follow the laws he represents making an excess demand on him?

        “This issue has been raised before, so why have we not demanded legislation that provides for immediate removal of an elected official for committing a misdemeanor?”

        Sort of like an impeachment process? I think we have those.

        “Are we elevating the crime above that which it has been determined to be because most of us would not engage in that behavior?”

        You are presupposing hypocrisy. I’m not sure why.

        ” Would we demand the same resignation for someone duly convicted of a crime that carries an equal or greater judicial penalty such as DUI or leaving his or her pet in a locked car during a hot summer afternoon?”

        Probably ought to.

        “Some might say the consequences of the latter are greater than the consequence of him altering his brain with a CDS.”

        Then some would be using the Comparative Virtue rationalization or the “It’s not as bad as other things”.

        “In other words, we should not cast stones unless we are willing to be stoned ourselves (no pun intended) for equally punishable, but different offenses.”

        #6 on the rationalization list. Yes, we can expect stricter standards for our leaders. Because they represent all of us, and should model the GOOD for us.

        This site has some amazing links such as The Lucifer Effect. There you can find imagery of the effects of mob rule.

        “My point is simply, if there are ways to legally punish an offending elected official then we should use them and not gin up public outcries for a person to resign from office. The electorate shall make the appropriate decision.”

        Like the already noted impeachment process? Resignation is an honorable expectation. It allows a politician to not further visibly sully their office with the proceedings, it allows them to demonstrate real leadership by accepting consequences without compelling a long and drawn out process. Calls for resignation can be honest or partisan. Don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater.

        • Tex, Thanks for your comments.
          In point one I said that I struggle with that concept.

          If we assume government is at best a necessary evil to protect property rights, provide for a common defense, and other necessary activities that the market will not undertake because there is no profit motive, then it stands to reason that we do not elect them to lead us but to serve our interests much like the shareholders of a corporation elect a BOD who then select a CEO to manage the interests of the share holders. Given that I do not need to be led to a given point of view, as I prefer to develop my own thoughts, I do not cast a ballot for a leader I cast one who will best represent my interests and delegate to that person the right to on my behalf. If that representative fails to live up to my expectation then I have the right to change my mind when the contract is over. Conversely, if we elevate them to a higher standard we are enabling the excessive narcissism you speak of in point two; which was what I was trying to convey.

          Thus, if they are a merely an employed lobbyist on my behalf then they do not represent the law they represent me. Otherwise they could make laws that specifically exempt themselves. I am not saying that they do not try and often get away with exempting themselves. I am merely saying that when it happens we must confront them otherwise they will consider our acquiescence an affirmation of that power.

          Given that this Senator represents a different but equal group of citizens and that I had no input on whether that person “should” be elected, for he does not represent my interests, my point was that only those for whom he represents have the right to call for his resignation. For all I know that group may approve of such behavior. I know this sounds like moral relativism but if we compare this to how the person was elected in the first place we would not condone non-residents of the state or district to cast ballots for or against the person.

          On the point of impeachment, impeachment is a trial of sorts and it is the codified mechanism to remove miscreants. If we are to demand that all elected persons resign upon a conviction of a misdemeanor then who determines which misdemeanors require such a resignation. Technically, littering is a misdemeanor and a conviction can carry jail time – although rarely enforced. Imagine the political implications if the requirement to resign for any infraction of the law existed. Political adversaries would simply lie in wait to serve up a “gotcha” moment. Or , we would drive all of their activities underground. Backroom deals are already bad enough.

          On the point of presupposing hypocrisy. I do not think so. What I was trying to convey again is that we all are entitled to due process of law. Demanding a higher level of punishments for any individual simply because they may be socially and economically higher or lower then the rest and not because of the infraction itself is grossly unfair. For example: What ethical breach would occur if we demanded that college educate people should be sentenced to harsher punishments for infractions because they should know better due to their advanced education. Should we hold them to a higher standard? What are we saying to the less educated? Stay ignorant and you will be better off? I believe that differential treatment under the law due to social or economic standing reinforces either the belief that one is above the law or that one is a perpetual victim of an unjust system.

          “Ought to’s” and “should’s” do not equal what is. If we ought to do something then we should change the rules before the act so the consequences are known. The fellow that murdered the abortion doctor felt that he ought to die. No one has the right to unilaterally decide the punishment without due process. We are proscribed from changing the rules of the game after the fact.

          You are correct that calls for his resignation should not prevent legitimate calls for his resignation. However one must have standing to call for his resignation. Because he is not a Senator from my state I have no standing. Thus I have no right to call for his resignation; only his constituents do. I only offered my opinion on what might be considered prior to such a call.

          My Point: “Some might say the consequences of the latter are greater than the consequence of him altering his brain with a CDS.”

          Your Point: “Then some would be using the Comparative Virtue rationalization or the “It’s not as bad as other things”.

          I absolutely agree. If a traffic infraction such as DUI which is a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the state and carries and equal punishment, and does not warrant immediate expulsion via resignation then neither does this infraction. It does not matter. Because I think the offense is more objectionable then something else then that does not mean that I can claim the “something else is OK”.

          My Point: “In other words, we should not cast stones unless we are willing to be stoned ourselves (no pun intended) for equally punishable, but different offenses.”

          Your Counterpoint: #6 on the rationalization list. Yes, we can expect stricter standards for our leaders. Because they represent all of us, and should model the GOOD for us.

          I knew I would catch some flak on this one. I did not say that the Senator should not be punished and if he were my Senator I probably would not vote for him. My understanding is that he was convicted upon a plea of guilty and he was sentenced according to the social rules of the state in which he lives. It is not up to me to exact any additional retribution simply because I think he got off easy. However, I used the parable correctly. It is explained that it is a metaphor of redemption not retribution. It is an extension of the Golden Rule which is not a rationalization of behavior but serves as a basis for fair play.
          Again, he is a senator from a different state than me so he does not represent me or my interests. As for modeling what is “GOOD” is subject to interpretation. The president says ObamaCare is good because it helps the less fortunate even though it may come at the expense of others. Is that good? What is not reflected in that statement is the fact that everything has an opportunity cost. The appropriated resources that will be used to provide health insurance and not health care will no longer be available to create opportunities for others to lift themselves out of perpetual poverty of mind and income. The model of Good is always subject to change. If laws reflect what is good and It was once good to deny women the right to vote then why is it not good now? Because good is sometimes subjective. I prefer to choose what is good subject to the limitations of law as is your inalienable right. I see this as the basis for the first amendment.

          My Point: “My point is simply, if there are ways to legally punish an offending elected official then we should use them and not gin up public outcries for a person to resign from office. The electorate shall make the appropriate decision.”

          Your Counter point: Like the already noted impeachment process? Resignation is an honorable expectation. It allows a politician to not further visibly sully their office with the proceedings, it allows them to demonstrate real leadership by accepting consequences without compelling a long and drawn out process. Calls for resignation can be honest or partisan. Don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater.

          In Japan, Hari-Kari is the honorable expectation for those that bring shame to the emperor. I have moved beyond that. Leadership does not have to mean bailing out to protect someone or something else. Real leadership is best demonstrated by learning from a mistake, seeking forgiveness from those that they hurt, and “sinning” no more. Permitting redemption is not a sign of weakness it is an acknowledgement that no human is perfect. If we immediately cast out all those that sin before us, how will they ever demonstrate a change in behavior? While I am not a theologian, I do know that Jesus preferred to walk among the sinners and not the righteous. That is were the lessons needed to be taught.

          Tex, Once again thanks for the comments. you have definitely helped me refine my thinking.
          Chris

          • Wildly over-thought, Chris, though elegantly stated.

            Rules are not ethics. Rules are compliance. Rules may remind us of ethical principles, but we should act ethically whether there is a rule or not. There does not need to be a rule to make him resign. The right thing to do is to resign in his case.

            Why?

            1. He betrayed his constituents, who did not elect him as a drug user, but rather as an honorable, honest public servant. An honorable merchant doesn’t wait until shoddy merchandize that he vouched for is returned with a demand of a refund. He replaces the product, out of honor and integrity, and because the customer didn’t get what he was led to believe. That ethic is even stronger in the case of betrayal by an elected official

            2. He is a representative. As a law-breaker, he now insults those he represents, and is ethically bound to remove the insult.

            3. He represents his party, which would not have made him their standard bearer as a law-breaker. He betrayed its trust, and again, insults and besmirches the party’s reputation by staying in office.

            4. He represents the House of Representative, which is turn represents the government of the United States, and the citizens thereof. He is not qualified to do so, nor can he represent them honorably.

            5. Of course he is a role model, and of course he is special. He is a leader. Leaders are special, by definition. Because, as leaders, they are followed, the must have exemplary values, or they corrupt and harm society. It is irresponisble, then, for him NOT to resign.

            6. He should resign, on his own, as an exemplar of leadership values, or what they should and must be, whether his constituency wants him to or not. He has a larger duty than to only his constituency. He also represents the State, including those who didn’t vote for him.

            7. He should resign because his conduct requires contrition, shame, repudiation and remedy. HE should recognize that he is, by virtue of this crime, no longer qualified to serve.

            8. And, incidentally, there IS a relevant rule: #1 in the House Code of Ethics. 1. A Member, officer, or employee of the House of Representatives shall conduct himself at all times in a manner which shall reflect creditably on the House of Representatives.

            He has not. Should every House member who violates this rule resign? Absolutely. On his or her own, as a patriotic, leadership duty. If they do not, they prove that they do not have the integrity to serve. Rangel should have resigned. I think Joe Wilson should have resigned. Bill Clinton should have resigned. Leaders and high elected officials are NOT merely elected to make speeches, vote and craft policies; they are also elected to strengthen society and its values by example. If they do the opposite of that, they have failed.

            The reason I said that he “needed” to resign is that WE need an honorable tradition where elected officials (and appointed ones) hold themselves to a higher standard than voters force them to accept, and that is one of the qualities that makes them trustworthy and justifies their posts.

    • The more I ponder your post, the more I am concerned about what appears to be a ‘solution’ materializing. It sounds more and more like a big “We’re all guilty of something, so we can’t judge” rationalization (#6).

      Additionally, you seem to imply that the voters will vote someone out if they think the crime is bad enough. That system is even closer to a leaders are above the law society.

  4. A case for smaller electoral districts

    Caveat up front: I don’t like comparing America to other nations, but since this discusses representative ratios, and America once had much better ratios than now, I’ll make this exception.

    Although I don’t agree with the emotionalist attachments European polities attach to their governments and the odd (and dangerous) precedents they set, this example shows the value of having a much lower Voter to Official ratio.

    In Latvia, a small nation (about 25,000 square miles — roughly equivalent to West Virginia or South Carolina), populated by around 2,000,000 people, their government consists of 100 elected representatives.

    With a ratio of 20,000 voters to one representative, that official is extremely accountable to his/her constituency, and extremely accessible, in stark contrast to our (approaching) 700,000 voters per representative. I think that kind of accountability discourages voter apathy and encourages officials to be more, well, official.

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