Suppose you think of yourself as an honest, ethical, moral American. Question: Could you become the President of The United States? Of course you could if you conducted a strong, well-managed campaign, gathered millions of supporters and donors, and the majority of Americans elected you to this prestigious position. However, there is one small hitch in this scenario, a prerequisite that would need to be satisfied.
As the last several decades have shown, anyone who aspires to become our president must, upon entering the White House, leave his or her ethics and morals outside the Oval Office door. While that might be a disturbing thought for many Americans, it is certainly not a major issue for those who seriously feel that they are qualified for this high office and are more than willing to comply with that prerequisite in order to achieve their goal.
The President of the United States is often referred to as the most powerful person on earth. In ceremonial terms, that is exactly true for he is the titular head of America; but in reality, he reports directly to that ruling Establishment. He may think that he can change America, but he is powerless to do so, since, if he tries to use his true mandate from the American electorate, he will find that he will be blocked at every turn by those who control Washington. That's why it's mandatory to leave those morals and ethics outside the door; they have a nasty habit of getting in the way.
Considering the last several decades, the best example of a U.S. president, at least in my opinion, that honestly tried to follow his own conscience and carry out the responsibilities of the office in an ethical, honorable manner, is now often referred to as a presidential failure; his name is Jimmy Carter, a man who did experience some setbacks and some failures, but who stands head and shoulders above most of the others who, since JFK, have largely let themselves become tools of this Establishment.
While some may totally disagree and even laugh at my assessment of President Carter, the facts are that he did not pursue an agenda of war, did not invade and occupy sovereign nations, did not enable torture techniques, and did not oversee the erosion of the Constitutional rights of Americans. Yes, we had very severe inflation, but we did not experience massive recession and financial collapse. Those four years, even considering the Iran Hostage Crisis, where 52 Americans were held hostage for over a year, were relatively peaceful years for America; and wars did not control the nation's agenda.
But here we are in a new America in which our presidents must not allow themselves to be considered weak and indecisive; our presidents today are supposed to be strong, aggressive, warrior-types who are quick to take swift military action against any nation that we even suspect may be harboring ill will against our nation. It's a kind of shoot first and ask questions later type of mentality, and it has now become the official doctrine for a U.S. president.
The damage and destruction that has been brought down upon the nations and people of Iraq and Afghanistan, and, most recently, Pakistan is almost incomprehensible. The deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and displacement of millions of others is morally reprehensible, as are the deadly drone attacks that are raining death upon innocent civilians in Afghanistan and Pakistan. This carnage is commonly called "collateral damage" and routinely dismissed as simply the tragedy of war; but no, it is far more than tragedy; it is a striking example of moral failure.
So far America has been able to maintain the separation of church and state, for which I am extremely grateful; for if we ever end that separation of church and state both will be corrupted. While that separation is a good thing, we have now arrived at the point where it seems America is also separating morals and ethics from the functioning of government - that morals and ethics are anathema to governance.
While this article is primarily about ethics and morals as related to American presidents, I would be remiss not to at least briefly reflect on this same issue as it also relates to the Congress.
The Congress is a prime example of how ethics and morals no longer appear to have a place in the governance of our nation. Power and money rule our once hallowed halls of Congress; ethics and morals have no place, no relevance whatsoever. The business of Congress is conducted based upon who can get how much from what special interests; that is how decisions are made. Our legislators, save for a select few, are selling their ethical souls for more than a few "pieces of silver." They know that we know what they have become, but they have not the slightest compunction to reverse their despicable and dishonorable behavior.
This lack of ethical behavior is not just found in the Congress. It is also present in many government agencies such as the SEC, whose members looked the other way when the Wall Street robber barons were using every means available to manipulate our financial system. It's also a problem that has corrupted any number of government regulatory agencies that completely failed to carry out their responsibilities that led to coal mining disasters in West Virginia and the horrendous BP Gulf Coast oil spill. This gives every appearance of being a pervasive moral, ethical disease that is rampantly spreading through all elements of our government. It is highly contagious in that anyone in government can be infected with it.
But let's get back to American presidents. The president is the leader of our nation, and that position entails many responsibilities. To think that this leader does not have a responsibility to carry out his duties in an ethical and moral manner is not acceptable. Just consider what the founders of our nation would think if they could see what America is doing in our world today. Would they simply accept and condone the invasions, the occupations and the spread of the military empire? Our founders fought a war of necessity, a war that they had to fight to preserve freedom. Would they not be extremely dismayed over the grave moral implications of what is being done in the name of American freedom today?
That's the point exactly: what might have been unthinkable to our founders is no longer unthinkable in the America of today. The question is - could America safely exist in this world and conduct itself in an ethical and moral manner in its dealings with other nations without having to resort to our current practice of invasions, occupations and destruction in foreign lands?
The answer is yes, without a doubt, it could; but a further question is, does America, led by our president, have any desire to follow such a different course? Right now the answer is a resounding no! And until the day when that answer will be yes, then America will remain as a mere shadow of its former self.