When it comes to politics, its coexistence with ethics is questionable. This is especially because many politicians engage in a wide range of indecent practices to pursue their interests or rather, become successful (Russell, 2013). In this case, the U.S president decides to sign an agreement with the Soviet Union to destroy both region’s nuclear weapons, a choice that does not amuse the public as well as the President’s opposition and the military. Marine Corps Colonel Martin Casey learns that his superior, General Jasmes Mattoon Scott is the leader of the other joint chiefs of staff (JCS) in the plan to start a coup d’état together with other members in the U.S. Congress to overthrow the President. Even though Casey does not Support the President’s decision, he finds the plan to remove him disgusting and unconstitutional and informs the Presidents and his allies who then plan to respond. With time, both sides scheme secretly. The President asks Casey to find out secrets that can be used against Scott from his former mistress Ellie. This paper will analyze this case to determine whether ethics and politics can coexist.
Are politics and ethics capable of coexisting?
To start with, many people would argue that politics and ethics cannot exist based on the popular phrase that ‘politics is a dirty game’ (Niebuhr, 2013). This claim can be affirmed to be true, looking at how politicians behave and the kind of things they do. For instance, over the years, the leaders who have been in power have gotten there by defaming their competitors, bribing, and giving money to the voters, among other practices. In the most recent U.S. elections, there was a lot of exchange of words between President Trump and Hillary Clingstone. To a large extent, it seems okay or accepted that politicians become more popular or successful by defaming their candidates, and this affirms that politics is a dirty game.
Ethics cannot allow politics to survive because it would mean a proliferation of good morals. Ethics principally entails a philosophy that directs an individual’s behaviors and decisions in life (Rohr, 2017). Different people and communities have dissimilar convictions on what is right or wrong and good or bad. Despite this, many morals are universal in all cultures, religions, and among individuals since they emanate from human basic emotions. For instance, it murder is highly condemned all over since it is unethical. In the field of politics, immoral acts are widely visible even though no law directly states that politicians should behave unethically. It is the main reason why many people fear politicians since they can break the law without necessarily being punished.
What are the ethical dilemmas involved in this case?
This case presents various ethical dilemmas. An ethical dilemma occurs when there are conflicting situations and a choice has to be made but following one path means that you transgress the other (Rohr, 2017). The first moral dilemma in this scenario involves Casey and his superior, Gen. Scott. After realizing what Scott was planning, that is, to overthrow the President in collaboration with some JCS and Congress Allies, Casey decided to alert the president. The President tasked him to obtain more information about Scott from Ellie. By making this move, Casey behaved unethically to pursue his political gains. Casey owes all his loyalty to Scott since this is what is required of all the officers in the armed forces. By obeying the president and being disloyal to his superior, he stands to gain his trust and perhaps, even a better position in the government. Casey’s behavior supports the argument that politics and ethics cannot exist.
Another ethical dilemma that further supports that politics and morals cannot live together is observed in General Scott. Just as Casey owes his loyalty to Scott, he also owes his’ to the President. Instead, he chooses to conspire with other leaders in high positions in the government and leads a coup d’état. Scott’s political interest, in this case, is to see the President fall and taking that seat. If this was to succeed, he would be able to perhaps, disregard the agreement with the Soviet Union regarding nuclear weapons. Therefore, it is evident that politics is a dirty game since Scott had to sacrifice his morals for political gains.
Moreover, the President’s behavior can be considered as unethical. This is mainly because he is willing to use Ellie’s personal life so that he continues being the president. The President asks Casey to extract information from Ellie, who is Scott’s former mistress and this information is to be used against the general. Given that Ellie is a vulnerable woman and the President wants her interrogated is a clear indication that one has to let go of morals when it comes to politics.
Overall, ethics and politics cannot coexist. Basically, politics is considered a dirty game where individuals need to behave unethically to achieve their political interest. In the provided case, Casey had to be disloyal to his superior so that he could please the President. On the other hand, Scott staged a coup d’état against the president, losing his morals. Additionally, the president was willing to use Ellie’s personal life so that he could remain in power.
Niebuhr, R. (2013). Moral man and immoral society: A study in ethics and politics. Westminster John Knox Press.
Rohr, J. (2017). Ethics for bureaucrats: An essay on law and values. Routledge.
Russell, B. (2013). Human society in ethics and politics. Rutledge.