Thursday, February 14, 2008

"Values" Voters: Why integrity matters

Integrity is what allows others to trust us. If we have integrity, we will keep our word, we will not make promises we can’t keep, and we will not waver on our values, whatever they are. When choosing someone to run a country, integrity is pretty high up on my list of criteria.

So how do I know whether or not they are men and women of integrity? I look at their record. Sometimes we can convince people they were wrong, and they will change their stance. However, when someone repeatedly changes their stance on an issue based on polls or for other reasons, then, we must doubt their integrity.

Many people mistake integrity for agreeing with their own views. This couldn’t get farther from the truth of the matter. People of integrity have deep down core values they believe in and live by. People of integrity know why they believe what they do: they have chosen those values because they believe in them. People of integrity do not waver with the winds of politics or public polls. People of integrity stick to their guns and protect their value system regardless of the consequences.

Some might label the person of integrity stubborn. It certainly may seem so at times to those who hold different values, but it is that very tenaciousness that helps them hang their hat on an issue after having thought it through carefully, and then stick with it. I believe George W. Bush is a man of integrity. He doesn’t rely on popularity to do his job; he relies on what he believes to be right. I don’t have to agree with everything he does to recognize integrity in him. When it comes to the candidates enmeshed in the current primary/caucus process, I just have to wonder.

Records can tell us a great deal about each of these candidates. When they switch views, is it a true repentance of old views, or is it just to please the current crop of voters? Do they backtrack when confronted? Do they respond in rage that you “dare” accuse them? Do they refuse to discuss the issues or blame it on someone else? Do they attempt to hide or explain away their records? All of these are clues to the underlying integrity of the person in question. If you can answer yes to any of these questions, you might want to look a little closer at the candidate in question.

In a society where integrity is no longer valued as it once was, we need to come back to voting our values. Some issues can be compromised, but the person of integrity knows which matter and which she or he should stand by as unchangeable. No, this doesn’t mean they are “closed-minded” the name many receive when they refuse to bend against their principles. It means they do not take their values and beliefs lightly.

If your chosen candidate will waffle on other issues, they will waffle or even abandon the issues they promise to uphold in order to get your vote. Integrity, strength of character and the ability to do what’s right in the face of opposition, these are the characteristics we should expect in our future president. Anything less, and we entrust our future to someone we cannot trust. Trust is essential to believing in our way of life. Too many have cast doubt on the US by their lack of integrity in the past. It is we the voters who get to decide if we will allow a lack of integrity in the future or if we will insist on integrity in the person of the President of the United States by the votes we cast.

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