The fall campaign season, like the school term, seems to start earlier every year. Before the various campaigns get more intense, I’d like to offer a suggestion that may help cut through all the rhetoric to help decide who you want to represent us either here in Georgia or in Washington, D.C.
By the time we are old enough to vote, we have developed a moral code by which we try to live. It may have started with our religion – Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, etc. – or from the examples of our parents, grandparents, teachers and other significant adults in our lives.
What all moral codes have in common is pretty basic – help when you can; try not to do any harm; treat others like you want to be treated; try to be fair to others and yourself; pay special attention to the vulnerable; and respect others as fellow humans of intrinsic value.
Note that our moral code is about people. Despite what the U.S. Supreme Court says, businesses are not people. However, businesses can help or hurt people, so we certainly have to decide how a given policy will affect a business’ ability to provide jobs, goods and services to people.
Voting is a moral issue because the outcome affects real people. Doesn’t it make sense to explicitly compare the candidates’ policies to our moral standards? Who does a given policy help or harm? Is the proposal fair, particularly to the less powerful? Are we giving too much weight to our own interests, to the detriment of others? Does the proposal allow businesses to increase their profits at the expense of their employees or the public?
There are clear differences among the candidates in the morality of their stands.