OPINION: Right from wrong in politics, when both sides look right

One shouldn’t sacrifice ethics to support their political ideals, on either side of the rule

In our current political climate, division is the norm, which can make it difficult to determine what is actually right and wrong.

The Unites States is one of the better examples of that with its two-party system splitting the country right down the middle. Can both sides be “right” at the same time? Probably. Especially when looking at a problem from each side’s perspective.

The mainstream press core always seems surprised by split election results such as the most recent midterm election, but for others, it’s clear America is struggling to find some balance using a system intended to split, rather than bring together.

America now has a majority of Democrats in the House (barely), while Republicans own the Senate (also barely). Each governing body is a few members from flipping to the other direction (although the Senate has a few more on the Republican side).

With that in mind, determining who is actually ‘correct’ is really subjective.

Anyone would be hard-pressed to find truth in that environment. With the stakes so high in the States, either side can’t afford to be wrong. To preserve their hold, politicians play the emotional card on the populace.

We accept this on a national level as seen in the United States and Canada but from a municipal level, one can easily recognize that voters do not like a split council. Presumably part of that stems from uncertainty over how a council will function, and if councillors will make rational decisions or be vindictive in their votes.

If it doesn’t work in municipal politics then the same could be said for national politics.

In the Town of Ponoka with the last council, officials were unwavering in the reasons behind some of the more contentious decisions. On several votes, Ponoka council had a 4-3 split that was frustrating to watch. Could both sides be right? Looking at the questions they faced strictly from their perspective, both sides were probably correct.

I recall a conversation with one councillor about some of the challenging split votes they faced and pointed out that if they only had Ponoka’s best interest in mind, the splits would be non-issues. That councillor’s frank reply forced me to pause.

“They DO think they are working for Ponoka’s best interests,” was the response.

The question, or answer, then becomes even more complicated. How does one argue with a person who feels they are right in their actions and decisions? Especially when they are looking at it from the lens of being “good for the community.”

As with the previous councils, and what is occurring in the United States, they were and are both right for their situation. What sets one apart from the other comes down to a question of ethics.

Whatever politicians say these days sounds great, especially if it falls in line with one’s opinion or political feelings, but is what they are saying or promoting ethical?

Let’s use the example of illegal immigration in the United States. It is definitely an issue. Folks are leaving their homes and families, some of them to escape corruption and unsafe political environments, but for those who live on the other side of the border, it’s a question of safety.

Some politicians would have voters think that it’s a question of national safety, that America is being invaded, thus stoking an irrational fear. On the other side, others are saying they’re escaping a horrible environment.

That fear-mongering argument aside, what was and still appears to be happening is that children are being separated from their parents, and children are being asked to sign legal documents in a court of law. Is that ethical?

The only thing separating one argument from the other is a question of humanity, or maybe even compassion.

While we get frustrated and angry at these difficult situations, followed by politicians stoking people’s anger, the question of ethical behaviour is an important one to answer to help find some clarity in the hot air floating around.

Is it ethical to push others to get what you want? The President of the United States acts this way. Some see that as a leadership move; decisive and authoritative. Others see it as bullying. This is only used as an example as it’s current news.

Would we accept that type of behaviour from our mayor? Doubtful. So why do we accept it from provincial and national politicians?

If the answer is that it fits our political ideals (there is nothing wrong with that), but breaks our feeling of ethics and compassion, then maybe we need to consider if it really and truly is acceptable.

Right, wrong or indifferent, compromising our personal ethics in support of partisan politics is probably not helping anyone, except for those in power.



jeff.heyden-kaye@ponokanews.com

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