Power can be considered in a number of different context. There are those who come into power through family ties or birthright. Some individuals come to power through hard work or conquest. Still yet other come into power through convincing others of their ethics and moral values and using this ideology to be placed into a position of power. Regardless, it seems that once an individual is placed into power through whatever means, the very ethics that brought them to this position are placed into question by either their actual actions or the interpretation of these actions by those whom they govern. These changes in morals and ethical principles have given leaders and politicians a less than favorable reputation that has been earned rather than simply assigned in a movement against authority (Zuckert, 2014). Therefore, given the fact that the politicians have continuously offered substantial proof of these allegations, it is in the opinion of this author that power, in fact, does corrupt the individual and that the greater amount of power that is achieved directly corresponds to the lacking of moral standards in politics.
It is important to note, that will the varying forms of obtaining power discussed, it is not always the intention of the politician to gain absolute power nor to lose touch with the ethics that are the basis of the campaign. In fact, according to Basinger and Rottinghaus (2012) claim that, despite the fabrications uncovered in many political campaigns, the intentions are generally genuine and the politicians intend to make ethical decisions and moral impacts on the society. However, once in power, the politicians are willing to go to extremes to either maintain or expand their power. It has been noted, throughout history, that these “leaders or states have to use violence and deceive others in order to preserve themselves” (Zuckert, 2014, pg. 86). At this point, it is then questionable as to how far the pursuit of political continuity will take the politician beyond his or her own moral values. In other words, what is then more important; the power or the ethics?
Often times, the politician feels that, by maintaining his power, he can eventually do the good that he intended to do during the acquisition of power. Zuckert (2014) explains this justification as having to make unsavory decisions for the overall benefit of the society. However, what tends to be viewed is, as the politician is able to justify a few unsavory decisions that gives him more power, it becomes easier to continue to make similar decisions. The power becomes more important than the benefits to society. Survival as a politician becomes more important than survival as a society. As was stated by Zuckert (2014) preservation becomes about the individual in power more so than the preservation of the society. When the politician must choose between this preservation and the ethics that placed him in power, the internal need for preservation takes over (Zuckert, 2014).
In sum, it is not in the opinion of this author that people seek power simply to be unethical. In fact, the opposite is far more accurate. Most people in power, intended to continue their moral pursuits and do well for themselves and the society at the same time. However, politics often requires the individual to act in a questionable manner in order to provide the best outcome for the whole. The ability to justify any action within only reasonable amount of question gives way to a power-related confidence and overwhelming sense of self-worth. The individual can then justify nearly any action given the need to preserve their own position and survival. Morals, then, become corrupted given this conflicting sense of value. The individual feels that their position is worth the loss of ethics and the ability to survive in that role becomes the driving force for corruption.
- Basinger, S. J., & Rottinghaus, B. (2012). Skeletons in White House Closets: A Discussion of
Modern Presidential Scandals. Political Science Quarterly (Academy Of Political
Science), 127(2), 213.
- Zuckert, C. (2014). Machiavelli and the End of Nobility in Politics. Social Research, 81(1), 84. doi:10.1353/sor.2014.0010.