Thoughts on Integrity in Politics

Integrity: the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness.

In the context of politics, this would be the ability to speak up or out against someone or something even if it runs contrary to one’s own political interest, political affiliation, or political party. Speaking up in these contexts may strain relationships (financial or otherwise), sabotage potential career opportunities, or even may end one’s political career entirely. But, it doesn’t change the fact that it was still the right thing to do. And that should be enough reason to do so in the vast majority of contexts. This could be at the level of an individual themselves, or as an organization. Either way, the ability and willingness to speak up for something you profess to believe in, or deem to be a central tenet to one’s own ethical standing, is more important than you could ever know.

To maintain a level of integrity, you can develop trust across the political spectrum: “I may not agree with [X], but at least I know they are sincere.” I have heard these phrase on more than one occasion. Once it has been demonstrated that integrity has been lost, either through a notable silence on a relevant issue to one’s professed ethics, or outrage directed towards a member of the opposite party that is not also directed at a member of one’s party as well for a similar issue, it is damn difficult to earn that trust back. People see through the double standards, the lies. They can smell it a mile away. And then they double-down, retreating back to the comforts of their own ideological safety net, their own propaganda networks: “I know that my party is flawed and corrupt, but at least it isn’t the other!”

Integrity is at the core of any thriving democracy, one that allows for productive dialogue and problem solving. But it is nearly impossible to achieve productive goals if the participating members are incredibly suspect to one another, perceiving the other as being disingenuous (probably rightfully so). Develop core values, and stick to them even when it is inconvenient to do so.

Breaking a few eggs to make an omelet also leads to a messier kitchen.

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