Domestic Politics: The Gray America
George Washington in his farewell address printed September 22, 1796 in the Daily American Advertiser states, “Of all the disposition and habits, which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable support... Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect, that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle” (Washington, 1796). Morals and having principles of ethics create the core foundation on which this country was founded and was an important aspect for the founding fathers. What would George Washington say upon ...view middle of the document...
Morality, ethics and God resonates in the undertones of the documents authored by the first Congress. Although it was not mandated that religious acts be written into law in the Constitution it was the convictions of religious men who set the country on the path to greatness. These men in essence, the first politicians appointed chaplains to perform duties for Congress and the armed forces, proclaiming national days of prayer and fasting. The politicians in Congress said to the citizens of America, “make us holy, so that we may be a happy people.” (1774 Congress, 2003)
Congress and the Senate take an oath to honor the words written in the United States Constitution. Words of few numbers have such weight as these 14 uttered by Representatives: “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support the Constitution of the United States.” (1779 Congress, 2003) Honor as defined by Webster’s dictionary means: “having a good name or public esteem, a keen sense of ethical conduct.” (House, 2001) To honor a country, should not a man first honor himself? Instead, the seeds of misconduct yielded fruit when in 1798 Representative Matthew Lyons of Vermont assaulted a representative. In 1838, dueling representatives resulted in the death of a member at the hand of William J. Graves. The first case of corruption in the House was Orsamus B. Matteson when in 1857 he sought payment for his vote on various issues.
Clear rules for ethical standards for representatives and government employees implemented in 1958 in the Code of Ethics for United States Government Service (Code) which states “Put loyalty to the highest moral principles and to country above loyalty to Government persons, party, or department… Uphold these principles, ever conscious that public office is a public trust. (Ethics Committee, 1958) The Code conveys principals of morality that persons serving the government should follow. Rather than provide a means to stem the flow of corruption the Code highlighted issues of transgressions.
Acts of misconduct have occurred under the watchful eyes of the American public but also in sight of law enforcements as in the Abscam Investigation conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) resulting in criminal prosecution and convictions of House members and senators who accepted bribes from FBI agents’ undercover seeking favorable dealing for foreign nationals. (Roberts, 2001, p. 141) Many are unaware of the 1959 case in which the Supreme Court ruled the Constitution prohibited individuals from suing officials and public employees for damages occurred while performing unrestricted acts as part of their duty, in essence giving those who fall under cover of this law absolute immunity from lawsuits. (Roberts, 2001, p. 3)
Political scandals have throughout history served to cause issues of mistrust and disdain among fellow citizens but none more apparent than in the following cases examined in the book Political Corruption in America (Grossman,...