Cindi Ross Scoppe's column on Nov. 12 ("The thing that's worse than 'you lie!'") really nailed one aspect of public life that is deeply distressing to me: We now expect less of public officials in terms of ethical, civil and principled behavior than we expect of ourselves and our co-workers. We need to change that, and I don't mean by expecting less of ourselves.
I'm not singling out Joe Wilson or Jim Clyburn, both of whom I know and have many reasons to admire. Instead I have a general observation.
When I worked in industry, I often coached newly appointed leaders on what I called the principles of leadership. Today I try to communicate the same things to the young students at the Governor's School for Science and Mathematics, many of whom are or will become leaders. I say: "You must come to work every day prepared to lose your job to support what is right. If you are not ready to take a stand that may cost you your job, you don't deserve to be a leader."
I've had to take a few stands myself over the years, and I don't mean stands like we have become accustomed to from many politicians: pandering to exactly what my narrow constituency wants to hear. I have been very lucky, in industry and now, to work for a very ethical company and with very ethical people, so my stands were accepted. How much more important it is to set the same standard and the same expectation for our elected leaders.
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People are always surprised when I say that almost all of the politicians I know, and I know a lot, are ethical and principled people. I think that we, the voters, must accept the responsibility of sifting through single issues, reading beneath the headlines, discounting the partisan spin and helping our leaders by demanding that all of them stand for ethics, civility and principle.
MURRAY W. BROCKMAN
Governor's School for Science and Mathematics