Sunday, August 01, 2004

Using X for political gain

Parableman, in an entry entitled "Using X for Political Gain", recently asked the question "Why is it wrong to use something for political gain?" and has provided a few examples to illustrate what type of answers he hopes to receive. The goal here is to explain why using some things for political gain is all right, but using other things is considered shameful.

My first thought is that political gain crosses a line when it can be interpreted as personal gain. As good citizens, we all believe that politicians should be given credit for foresight and thoughtfulness in both addressing problems and anticipating problems. Just because a politician poses as wise and responsible doesn't mean that he or she isn't just as vote-mongering as any other politician. On the other hand, the voters can still give a lot of praise to a decent politician while wanting to kick him out of office.

Political gain starts becomming personal gain when a politician starts putting himself ahead of his or her responsibilities to the public. To address some of Parableman's examples:
  • John Kerry's war record: Whether he or she was drafted or volunteered, anyone who serves in the armed forces, and especially during war-time, deserves admiration for his or her patriotism and valor. A president is also expected to have good judgement in administration of the strategic military posture of the United States. If a legislator repeatly makes mistakes of judgement within his or her role in the legislative component of the military administration, the voters are entitled to know. In other words, war service is not the summum bonum of a presidential candidate's qualifications for office, and a politician that pretends otherwise is being deceptive.


  • Al Sharpton's speech at the Democratic National Convention mentions Sudan: Although I haven't seen the details of this speech, we all know that there is an enormous amount of misery and death in Sudan. Bringing a greater awareness of this enormous suffering to the American people might shorten the time and effort required to bring peace to that region again. If Al Sharpton raised the issue of doing more for the people of Sudan for politican gain, then he's entitled to it.


  • The solidier's funerals in "Fahrenheit 9/11": Would you sell someone a ticket to attend a funeral? Would you exploit a funeral to get the upper hand in a personal argument? Doing those things for political gain in a major motion picture seems a few million times worse to me

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