Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Qualities of a Governor - Schwarzenegger vs Sanford

When it comes to duties of office, is Arnold Schwarzenegger a better governor than Mark Sanford?

When the Governor Sanford affair popped up recently, I took a contrary point of view to someone's Facebook remarks. My comment:
Well, I don't know. Are you looking at your politicians for moral guidance? I'm certainly not. For a pastor, a priest or teachers, yes. From my elected officials, I expect them to perform the functions of their offices - maintain necessary services, insure that revenues balance expenditures over the long run. Do you require that your local postal clerk or grocer have an impeccable family background, do you even care? Certainly there is a lot of pain going on in that family. Why pile it on? I should add that my primary expectations are competence and honesty.
The original poster responded that their expectation was integrity. I agree. An excellent word - I would have used it initially if I'd thought of it. I would qualify it to mean integrity in the execution of their office. I know it seems incongruous to for an individual to have integrity in their public life, while seemingly lacking it in their private life, but by definition we don't have all the facts when it comes to private life. Now that more facts have come to light on Mark Sanford, I probably would not give him the benefit of doubt that I did initially, but it did get me thinking.

My thoughts ran to public integrity and the responsibility of office. The current California budget crisis has kept my thoughts on politics a lot more than usual. I refined my view of a politician's responsibility. Foremost is that integrity in public office means acting in the best interests of ones constituents. If push comes to shove, a politician of integrity should be prepared to vote in the interests of his constituents even if this means loss of the next election. This generally doesn't conflict with honesty, but it can conflict with loyalty, an absolute requirement for private integrity i.e. in marriage.

In California we have Arnold Schwarzenegger, who I believe to be a man of honesty and integrity, in a situation where he feels he is bound by duty to honor his election campaign pledge of no new taxes. In my view this loyalty to his election pledge is a failure to act in the best interests of his constituents and a lack of the integrity I expect from a public official.

The same thoughts also apply to the Republicans of the state legislature, though I don't have personal knowledge of any of them, so haven't formed an opinion as to their honesty or integrity. I do see the same pledge of no new taxes harming the best interests of their constituents. The children of the state, the poorest of the poor, the State Park system, fish and game wardens all face crippling damage from budget cuts that are insignificant to fixing the budget problem, and easily fixed by relatively small tax measures. An aside, we've been getting some unattributed taking of blog content so inserting © 2009 backpack45.com

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