EDITORIAL: THE QUESTION OF INTEGRITY

anguillian
By anguillian June 20, 2017 12:21

 

 

Integrity in public office is one of those concepts that is often trumpeted by political scientists, scholars, institutions responsible for good governance and the like. Theoretically, it is one of the standards that is expected of every person holding political office and those working in government. On political platforms, integrity is one of the buzzwords used to promote candidates and encourage persons to give them their support. Yet, it seems that in governments around the world, integrity is non-existent or under threat.

According to the Collins Dictionary, integrity is: the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles. Synonyms for integrity include: uprightness, probity, honour, good character, virtue, decency, fairness, truthfulness, trustworthiness, sincerity and the list goes on. Indeed, theoretically, who would disagree that the persons elected to lead us should be persons of integrity? From a practical standpoint however, do we, the electorate, really expect or even care about integrity? I don’t mean to be facetious, but when one looks at political events around the globe and the response from the electorate, and even those with responsibility for ensuring good governance, it begs the question as to whether integrity really matters.

One such glaring example that has dominated the news for the last six months is the current leadership of the United States.

But we don’t even have to look that far. Right here in the Caribbean and in our own island it seems that integrity matters little. How many of us care about how our political leaders conduct themselves in public office, or private life, so long as there is money is our pockets? If our economy was thriving would anyone care about the actions of our leaders? To most, none of it matters. How many political parties, or their supporters, would call an elected member to account, unless that person’s actions have the potential to undermine the party itself? Since I have not seen anything that would suggest otherwise, in my view it appears that once the stronghold or power of a party is not undermined, political parties and supporters could care less about the conduct of their elected members.

Given what we have seen around the region, and in our own backyard during at least the past decade, I would say we have a serious problem. The only times we seem to care about integrity in public office is when:

• We are negatively impacted by the financial situation; or

• When the persons in Government are not members of the political party we support.

We the voters have therefore sent a loud message to our political leaders that integrity does not matter. The Caribbean political landscape is therefore rife with corruption, nepotism, immoral and inappropriate personal conduct – and the list goes on. The reputation of our countries is impacting on the way in which we are treated in the global arena. I am sure there is no need for a reminder of the plight of the Turks and Caicos Islands, a few short years ago, whose people felt the weight of the actions of their political leaders.

However, the reality is the leaders are not to blame. I firmly believe in the saying that a people get the Government they deserve. It is our duty to demand more of our leaders. It is our duty to hold them accountable for their actions and conduct in office. The power is literally in our hands to ensure integrity in public office on the part of those we elect. If by our actions and by our vote, we insist on integrity, integrity is what we will get. But we must first answer the question for ourselves: does integrity really matter?

anguillian
By anguillian June 20, 2017 12:21

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