Virtue is missing in public and political life these days.  It is embarassing that we have to watch our elected officials so closely.  When they are caught it seems that no one cares.

Adultery with public officials is becoming a dog bites man story these days.  The biggest problem is that the public is becoming jaded and has been led to believe that private life does not affect public life.  This is one of the most pernicious and persistent lies foisted on the public.  Our public officials are given a public trust to faithfully execute their official duties.  If a person can’t be trusted to keep their word to their spouse, someone they presumably love(d) and know/knew well, how can we trust them to keep their word to a bunch of people they don’t know?  The answer is that we can’t.  Our public officials need to be faithful in all aspects of their lives if they want us to trust them.

The problems are in both parties.  Many of President Obama’s appointments for executive branch offices were disappointments for tax reasons.  Tim Geitner had many tax problems including not paying social security or medicare taxes for several years and after a closed door meeting with senators he is the Secretary of the Treasury.  Someone who did not pay his taxes for several years is in charge of the IRS which enforces tax collections.  President Bush had several executive officials resign under problems with conflicts of interest.  The Jack Abramoff bribery scandal has touched both parties and has gone off the headlines because there are so many new scandals and problems to report about.  The scandals in Washington politics go back for decades in an unending parade of shame and dishonor.

Utah has had its share of scandal too.  Greg Curtis was working as legal council to Salt Lake County Mayor Nancy Workman and billed the county gas card for his personal driving around the state and double billed some of his fuel costs to the county and the state.  He lost in the 2008 elections but is now a lobbyist in Utah.  Nancy Workman was hounded out of office on allegations of improper influence and was found not guilty at trial.  Utah would probably have more scandals to report on if we had more robust ethics laws which the state legislature continues to ignore and fight each year.

We need a return to public and private virtue.  Our politicians should be people we look up to and aspire to be like instead of people held up to ridicule and scorn.

One of the best examples of public virtue is George Washington.  At a great personal cost he served as the commander of the army for the United States in the Revolutionary War.  He was not able to take care of his lands and suffered financial losses through his service.  He wanted to stay out of public life and only showed up for the constitutional convention at the insistence of his friends.  George Washington was the servant of the people and did not seek for fame, fortune, or to benefit from his public service.

I wish we had a thousand George Washingtons today.

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