Hypocrisy is the privilege of the powerful. It does, however, always come at a cost. For those who criticize others the loudest, the price is always the highest. The failure of of US Attorney General Jeff Session to offer forthright testimony during his confirmation hearings in regards to meetings with Russian officials and the use of personal email by Vice President Mike Pence during his tenure as Governor of Indiana represent only the latest high profiles scandals originating from the Trump Administration. To summarize the news coverage of the highly critical Trump team, which has thoroughly demonized the Obama Administration, the Press, the intelligence community, the US Judicial System, and many others to gain power: hypocrites.
In turn, the Press has also been continually accused of having a liberal bias and failing to scrutinize Obama Administration officials as closely. Quite frankly, hypocrisy is plentiful in Washington and beyond. It is just as plentiful in the governments of all nations and in all positions of influence. Just as there are plenty of Trump supporters whose instincts are to defend the President no matter what he says or does, most affluent individuals enjoy the same level of undying loyalty from their proponents, yet such blind “support” only fuels hypocrisy and corruption. The power to constrain the behavior of others and do as one pleases , i.e. hypocrisy, is the precursor to worse abuses of power. As such, hypocrisy from all must be confronted in order to ensure the power of government is used for the common good instead of corruption.
Positions of authority often come with privilege, yet the privilege of power always demands greater personal responsibility. Hypocrisy may be the privilege of the powerful, but a failure to respect the legal and ethical boundaries of one’s position undermines the legitimacy of that power in the eyes of those who support that power and tolerate the use of that power. As demonstrated by the expanding gap between the wealthy and growing number of impoverished, the rich and powerful appear to believe they are entitled to preferential treatment when it comes to trade, tax, and regulatory policies as well as when it comes to the investigation and enforcement of laws. Certainly, America’s wealthy and political elites are subject to arrest and persecution, but the scales of justice seem to favor them.
Much of the Great Recession, for example, resulted from the decisions of Wall Street executives, yet no one was actually punished for their wrongs, because America’s legal system does not recognize their wrongs as illegal. It is, therefore, important to recognize something that is illegal is not necessarily wrong and something that is legal is not necessarily right. A legal system cannot treat all wrongs as illegal, because doing so empowers political leaders to pursue their personal beliefs and vendettas, which undermines the rights of others; however, the apparent writing of laws to favor the powerful does so as well. What ultimately matters is whether the People tolerate the policies and actions of their power elites. Once the People can no longer tolerate the hypocrisy of the unresponsive, self-serving nature of their wealthy and political elites, government losses support.
There has been a long brewing trend in our society to shirk personal responsibility for all of our woes by blaming other individuals, society, and anything that might impact us in a negative way. It has become common practice to simply throw up our hands and profess a given situation is beyond our control, no matter what we do, or did. There is even a tendency to profess our intentions to take responsibility then backpedal without honest self-reflection. A lack of personal responsibility, in turn, undermines our communities and society in ways that hurt generations to come. There is also a tendency for influential individuals, who are government, business, and community leaders, to disavow their responsibilities in hypocritical pursuits as they insist others take personal responsibility.
When political, business, and other community neglect, or reject, their responsibilities to our society, problems go unresolved and crises metastasize into catastrophes. One role of government is to ensure individuals and businesses take personal responsible for their decisions and actions. It is, however, the responsibility of individual citizens to demand responsible government through democratic participation and civil engagement. This means our society must hold our leadership to higher standards and demand they take personal responsibility for their decisions as leaders. It is why their hypocrisy cannot be tolerated. The challenge of governance is almost always far greater than critics realize while all people make mistakes, which is why leaders insulate themselves from mistakes with highly competent, adaptive teams, but hypocrisy is just leadership avoiding problems.
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