Best Practices in Political Decision Making: Ethical Decisions in Tough Times
Eddie Holloway is the Dean of Students at the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. He will be hosting his session ”Best Practices in Political Decision Making” on Wednesday, November 19, from 1:00-4:30pm at the Congress of Cities in Austin.
Public confidence in America’s political leadership is at an all-time low. Whether it is the Harris, Gallup or Rasmussen national poll, results indicate that there is little confidence left in today’s political leadership. How did this happen, when did it happen and who is responsible for this new low? Media reports and social media hubs are filled with accounts of failures in ethical conduct by public servants. Fraud and perjury are just some of the types of crime and unethical conduct, or impropriety that are contributing to the loss of faith in American governance. It must be said that it is difficult to place a monetary cost on the amount of loss to society and overall waste in human capital. The question that needs to be asked is: has America lost its moral compass—its commitment to integrity, fair play and personal accountability?
Some say that today is a time of skepticism while others say that this is time for public accountability. These discussions change the focus of the question, bringing more attention to the approach that needs to be taken to change public opinion. Leading the conversation to focus on how and by what methods will accountability, trust and credibility be achieved? As the topic of ethics is discussed, the causes and reasons for this increase in the display of unethical conduct should be assessed. Competition, the aspiration of wealth, disregard for the common good of society; self-assessment and the best practices on ethical behavior and discipline ought to be explored to lessen corruption in government and society. The increased practice in unethical conduct will be conducive to a true culture of cheating where everyone is thought to be partaking in fraudulent behavior. It is time for public servants to make changes and make developments in attitude and behavior to bring back a sense of normalcy and trust in government. We must address this situation and the American society must make the changes necessary to restore confidence in its public officials.
Ethical standards are critical to the process of “doing right” in public governance. It is generally agreed upon that leadership and governance are not easy tasks. There is also agreeance that practical strategies are needed to navigate the difficult challenges of decision making in today’s governance. Gone forever are the days when public servants can say, “I’ll execute my duties as an elected official and public servant as I desire.” Today’s servant must be briefed on laws, self-assessment and be equipped with methods of accountability, responsibility and a heaping dose of ethics. These attributes will prepare politicians for a stable, long term and fruitful service, as well as a reputation for high standards of transparent political life.
In his book, The Cheating Culture, David Callahan discusses the pervasive cheating occurring across occupations and institutions. He talks about how cheating has turned into a moral crisis and social problem in America. Mr. Callahan explains that Americans are not only cheating more, but feeling less guilty about it. Thus, our culture stands to become numb to the notion or act of cheating and has become a part of America’s normalcy.
Others have added to the discussion. In the book, A Nation of Cheaters, Kirk Hansen speaks of the cheating that has long lived across business, educational and sports areas. He explains that the shortage of time, desire to win by any means necessary; fear of failure and unfair systems of evaluation and measurement undergird the reasons for the chaos in politics. Mr. Hansen writes of the need to build new systems whereby wealth and notoriety are not the only defining marks of success in life’s journey.
It is not intended to imply that politicians lead the wealthy or all other parties in unethical conduct. In most instances, it is the public official or politician that is the most scrutinized, reaping the downfall, public humiliation and defamation. For the politician’s security, safety and benefit, it is crucial that they employ strategies, mental sensitivities and tactics that will prevent acts of collusion in illegal and unethical conduct. To accomplish our dream for a better society and government in America, elected officials, politicians and public servants will have to value the display of good character, ethical leadership practices and attitude development in public services. They will have to understand and manage anger in the workplace, build positive relationships and develop personal and organizational codes of conduct. It is time for a clarion call for sanity and a greater display of ethics in politics and the electorate.
About the Training
The training package is designed to initiate personal introspection and provide proven strategies to inform and combat unethical conduct. Lectures, small group discussions and personal work are designed for interactive learning and application. It is intended for participants to gain insights and tips to use as they work as politicians, making ethical decisions. Listed below are the goals and objectives for this training package.
- Understand and see the value of ethics in life and political conduct.
- View the impact of cheating as loss and waste to society.
- Learn strategies and mental readiness for making ethical decisions.
- Understand the role and benefits of character in leadership and politics.
- Gain insights in the elements of anger and conflict management.
- Observe and understand the values of adopting a personal code of ethics, as well as an organizational code of ethics.