Some things are just wrong, no matter where you stand on the political spectrum.
Imagine, if you will, a country where political parties do not exist. In that utopian society, issues are decided on their merit, and on whether they are good or bad policy.
Looking at things through a clear lense, unfiltered by political leaning, where do you stand?
Russians have been accused of manipulating our election process, and evidence supporting the claim grows daily. They have even been doing similar things in the elections of other countries. In this scenario, political parties really don’t matter because, while the Russians may help one side this time, perhaps they will be helping the other side next time. Their aim is simply to destabilize our democracy. As a nation, what should we do? Should we mount an independent investigation to get to the bottom of it? Or should we ignore it? If you are on the side that was helped this time, can you honestly say to yourself that you would hold the same view if it was the political opposition that was helped? Take politics and political parties out of the equation. What is the right thing to do?
Here’s another scenario: Say your town’s mayor also happens to own a lavish resort on the ocean that charges premium prices. Upon election, the mayor decides to hold monthly retreats for the council and staff at the resort, and bill the town. The entire region is filled with tons of similar resorts, but it is only the one that the mayor owns that is getting the town’s business, and town taxpayers are footing the bill. The mayor, as owner of the hotel, reaps the benefits of being able to charge the town top dollar for their retreats, and the resort’s bottom line grows. As a taxpayer, do you find this acceptable?
Take the scenario a step further and say that you are the owner of a competing hotel that has seen solid business for years. Now, however, all your clients are booking rooms at the mayor’s hotel because they think this will give them a leg up with the owner. A company that wants to start a chicken farm but whose plan has been held up because of environmental concerns is among those booking their annual staff party at the mayor’s hotel. The company had, for the past 15 years, held their annual party at your hotel and had always given you rave reviews. They didn’t say why they switched this year. Is there anything wrong with that?
What if the mayor, or the mayor’s relatives, owned catering, party planning, boat tour or other businesses that were routinely used every time someone booked an event at the hotel? As a taxpayer, should the mayor reveal that a family member owns the boat excursion business that has been booked for the town employee event at the hotel? There are literally hundreds of boat excursion businesses along the shore, but the one owned by the mayor’s relative is the one that gets all the business that you, the taxpayer, are paying for. Is this OK? Or should the mayor be required to reveal this information and, perhaps, let the town council vote on the hotels and services to be utilized?
What if the owner of that chicken company visits secretly with the mayor? We know the company is trying to skirt environmental regulations and that it has changed its annual company event to the mayor’s hotel. Should the public be made aware of the meeting or is it OK for them to meet in secret?
A little closer to home, despite all your efforts, you and your spouse decide to get a divorce. In order to have an equitable settlement, both parties are expected to bring proof of all their financial assets and obligations to the bargaining table, but your spouse refuses. Is this OK? Your spouse insists that you should just take their word for it concerning their net worth and business affiliations. Do you go along with this and proceed with the settlement?
Too much of what we do is colored by political leanings, but if you take the parties and those political leanings out of the equation, the answer on what is the right thing to do becomes a little clearer.
Jim Lee is the editor at Gatehouse Media Delaware. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org