Ethics Quiz And Poll: The Siblings’ Betrayal

Whatever the answer to the quiz, I view this development as a bad sign for all of us.

Republican congressman Paul Gosar ‘s six siblings all agreed to participate in an attack video by his opponent, Democrat David Brill, in the race to represent Arizona’s 4th District in Congress. They all endorse Brill in the ad, while denigrating their brother’s positions on  health care, immigration, and the environment.  “He’s not listening to you, and he doesn’t have your interests at heart,” Tim Gosar said.

Nice.

Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz Of The Day:

Is this conduct by Gosar’s family members ethical as responsible citizenship and political advocacy, or unethical as disloyal and unfair?

I think I know my answer, but it is a close call, hence the quiz. Now the poll:

Finally There’s Name For The Conduct I’ve Been Calling Unethical For Years…Now Let’s Agree To Stop It

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That name is “partyism.”

From Harvard Professor Cass Sunstein:

“…party prejudice in the U.S. has jumped, infecting not only politics but also decisions about dating, marriage and hiring. By some measures, “partyism” now exceeds racial prejudice — which helps explain the intensity of some midterm election campaigns. In 1960, 5 percent of Republicans and 4 percent of Democrats said that they would feel “displeased” if their son or daughter married outside their political party. By 2010, those numbers had reached 49 percent and 33 percent. Republicans have been found to like Democrats less than they like people on welfare or gays and lesbians. Democrats dislike Republicans more than they dislike big business.”

Based on what I’ve seen, the fact that Republicans/conservatives  are nearly twice as likely to be “partyists”  as their hated enemies to the left on the political spectrum doesn’t surprise me. Most of the manifestations of the bigotry I’ve seen out in the open and written about here—restaurants that give discounts to praying customers and bars that claim that they will only serve “red voters”—have come from that sector, but 33 percent isn’t anything for liberals to be proud of, either. Over all, the trend is horrible for the country. As I wrote regarding “Mary’s,” the restaurant that favored its religious customers…

“I detest this kind of thing, and so should you, because it is ethically indefensible and un-American to the core….splitting the world into them and us, good guys and bad guys, the virtuous and the reviled. All of “Mary’s” customers are human beings, and that is the only thing that should matter in the United States of America.”

I confess that since I have been observing this phenomenon, I am preconditioned to think the Stanford research that purported to measure it as has validity. Most social science research, especially involving politics, is so skewed by researcher bias and agendas that it is inherently dubious, and perhaps this example is too: I wouldn’t rely on the percentages. Also 1960 would have to be the absolute low water mark in U.S. political passions, after the remarkably non-partisan, unifying two terms of Dwight Eisenhower while the public felt united against a common enemy in the Cold War. I’m guessing the numbers in, say, 1860 would show a sharper divide.

I do think that the intensity of emotion, rising to bigotry, distrust and hate, in the nation’s political polarization is growing, is very alarming, and dangerous to our health and future. I’d like to know more about where it resides. Is the bulk of the bigotry coming from the low-information voter, who uncritically absorbs every campaign smear, bumper sticker insult and Facebook meme as fact—you know, morons? Or are the individuals who would rather die than see their daughters marry men who oppose the family’s favorite party the narrow-minded political junkies who watch only Fox News and listen to Rush, or who cheer Al, Chris, Rachel and the 24-7 conservative-bashers on MSNBC? I’d like to know.

Naturally theories will abound regarding the reasons for this new bigotry. In a general sense, it is pure cognitive dissonance, and can be explained by people today caring more about politics and ideology than they have for quite a while. People care about something when they sense that it matters to their lives, health and welfare, as well as those around them: if political views were regarded as no more important than what baseball team one rooted for, there is no way substantive bigotry would attach to them. With foreign threats looming, the economy weak, nobody certain of the right policies in so many crucial areas and the pettiness, corruption and ineptitude of parties in and out of power, trust has plummeted. When we can’t trust those whom we have given the job of looking out for our welfare, we become worried and scared, as well we should. Then it makes sense to care more about politics. If we care more, and feel strongly about what should be done either out of a lack of sophistication and gullibility (the morons) or from unbalanced self-education (the zealots), then those who proclaim opposing views seem more obnoxious and more threatening, prompting active discrimination. The Stanford study found that “discrimination against the out-group is based more on out-group animus than in-group favoritism.” That figures. But for a nation, it is suicidal.

This nation of ideals gleaned from a diverse population must value trust and belief in what all citizens share more than it embraces passion and anger over what we disagree over. If we cherish the basic principles of democracy, then we must accept, encourage and respect dissent, frank speech, the shocking opinion and the minority view.  We must always keep our minds open to new ideas, different solutions to old problems, and the possibility that we, or the public officials, scholars and pundits we favor, may be wrong on any one topic or issue. If we can’t do that, we doom ourselves and our culture to self-righteousness, doctrine, cant  and rigidity, which block out enlightenment like an eclipse blocks sunlight. Continue reading

Ethics Hero: Rick Warren

Sorry, no civility this year…

Rick Warren, Saddleback Church’s popular and nationally famous conservative pastor, has announced that his church’s civil forum planned with President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney at the church this week has been canceled as a result of the relentlessly negative, mean-spirited and uncivil campaigns being waged by both parties.

The forum was to have been two hours long, with each candidate speaking with Warren for 50 minutes. Warren hosted the first presidential campaign forum in 2008 between Obama and his Republican opponent Sen. John McCain. Despite that forum’s success and the notoriety it brought him and the church, Warren decided that to host a “civil forum” with such uncivil candidates would be hypocritical, saying, Continue reading

Obama Resorts To Swiftboating

“It was despicable what they did to John Kerry. Hey! Maybe it will work on Romney!”

I didn’t see this coming from the Obama campaign, and I suppose I should have. The President has shown a willingness to abandon virtually every one of the principles his piously stood for during his “transformational” 2008 campaign; the unifying, bi-partisan, President-of -all-Americans has meticulously worked to seed distrust and enmity between black and white, Anglo and Hispanic, business owners and labor, rich and poor, non-Catholic and Catholic, young and old, men and women, and, of course, Republicans and Democrats, as a desperate and cynical strategy to stay in power, disregarding the inevitable harm such a scorched earth strategy will do to the nation. If anyone can recall in our history such a total breach of integrity by a major American political figure, please enlighten me. The closest I can find is President Obama’s 2008 opponent, John McCain, who thoroughly disgraced himself to fend off a tea party challenger in his 2010 Senate bid in Arizona….and it really isn’t close.

Still, I didn’t expect the President to resort to Swiftboating, the political tactic that derives its name from the attacks on John Kerry’s military heroics from some of his fellow Vietnam swift boat commanders (“Swift Boat Veterans for Truth”) who financed a devastating series of negative campaign ads alleging that Kerry’s decorations for valor were based on fraud. Though the ads were based on rumor, hearsay and animus, they put Kerry on the defensive in his 2004 campaign against President Bush. I doubt that the smear really lost Kerry the election—he was a terrible candidate—but Democrats have continued to cite the Swiftboat ads as proof of conservative perfidy and ruthlessness. They, of course, would never stoop so low. Continue reading

Schemes, Slander and Deception: The Most Unethical Maneuvers of Campaign 2010

Well, I have to admit they were creative. And despicable.

2010’s most unethical maneuvers ran the gamut from lying to zombie exploitation, from false identity to extortion. Unfortunately, most of the worst stunts were pulled by or on behalf of Democrats; I say unfortunately because I try awfully hard to keep these kinds of lists in partisan balance. But the Democrats and their progressive fans were especially slimy this time around, and it it figures. When the going gets tough, the tough get unethical, and it is the Democrats who are facing ballot box carnage. They have been pushing the envelope, to say the least, in their campaign tactics, and I think it probably made their situation more dire rather than less.

Here, in reverse order of ethical outrageousness, are the Ten Most Unethical Maneuvers of Campaign 2010: Continue reading