Is Donald Trump’s presidential campaign behavior ethical? On November 8, 2016 the United States will hold its 58th quadrennial presidential election. There are three Democrats and four Republicans still in the presidential race, one of whom is Donald Trump. Any one of the candidates taking part in the presidential campaign may become the next President of the U. S. These people act as representatives of not only their respective political parties, but of the American populous as a whole. Their messages are broadcast across the globe. Thus, it is of great import that these candidates conduct themselves respectably and ethically.
Historically, American leaders have often been held accountable for their unethical behaviors. However, in life (and especially in politics) the boundaries of righteous and ethical behavior are often blurred. While Richard Nixon was impeached from office for his involvement in the Watergate spying scandal, his successor Gerald Ford was quick to pardon his former boss. Ronald Reagan sold weapons to Iran in secret in spite of specific congressional prohibition from doing so.
George W. Bush invaded Iraq under the pretense of removing “weapons of mass destruction” which were never discovered in the country (Fousek & Wasserman, 2010, p. ). Such actions may degrade America’s international and domestic reputation and highlight the importance of strong moral principles in its most powerful office. Presidential candidates should thus be ethical and honest. Ethics are gray, but honesty is black-and-white. In order to have ethics a person should be honest, but it is possible to consider a dishonest situation from an ethical perspective (Craig, 2004, p. 38). The pressures of becoming elected have the potential to overshadow the ethical principles of the office in question.
Candidates may resort to more Machiavellian principles, seeking the ends at whatever means. Even the most ethical of candidates may feel compelled to stoop to potentially unethical behaviors in the face of an opponent who chooses to blur the ethical lines. Unethical campaigns have the potential to alienate voters toward their governments, setting the campaigner up for an inhospitable office (Nadler & Schulman, 2015, para. 4). So is Donald Trump’s campaign ethical? Does this candidate possess and exhibit moral principles during his presidential campaign? A number of American citizens support Trump.
They say that they like his confidence, honesty, and the belief that he can “Make America Great Again. ” Many of his public statements are accepted ambiguously, highlighting their ethical nature. Let’s examine some examples of Donald Trump’s recent controversial statements and the possible ethical implications of such declarations. Honesty Trump’s honesty has been called into question numerous times during his campaign. One particularly striking example occurred on February 28, 2016, when Trump remarked on his perspective of Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke.
Just so you understand, I don’t know anything about David Duke, okay? I don’t know anything about what you’re even talking about with white supremacy or white supremacists. So I don’t know, did he endorse me or what’s going on,” Trump replied to CNN news anchor Jake Tapper (Bradner, 2016, para. 4). It is obvious that Donald Trump knows of David Duke, and Trump even mentioned him in several interviews during his 2015 campaign. Also, instead of taking the responsibility for his response, Trump blamed CNN for providing a “bad earpiece” for the interview. Is it ethical for a possible president to provide false information?
When it comes to a candidate, voters select their candidates based upon whom they would want to become President. They support the beliefs of a leader and trust the messages he conveys. By making deceitful statements and not taking responsibility for them, Trump consciously blinds his supporters and subversively endorses the viewpoints of extremist voters in order to keep them in the fray. This concept of cognitive dissonance is described as the state of having inconsistent thoughts, beliefs, or attitudes, especially as relating to behavioral decisions and attitude change (reference).
In an effort to avoid cognitive dissonance, voters trying to reconcile potentially unethical statements or messages will look for candidates to provide an explanation or an alternative source of blame. In this way, voters, too, are pressured to ignore their own ethics in order to maintain their commitment to one of the candidates and opposition to another (Robert & Denton, 2000, p. 9). From this perspective Trump’s action in blaming CNN can be seen as a sort of relief to some of his followers, but falsehood and refusal to take responsibility can’t be considered ethical.
Donald Trump should apologize for his response and give a truthful answer to a given question. Discrimination Recently Donald Trump came under attack for offering to totally shut down the borders for Muslims traveling to the U. S. following the San Bernardino mass shooting by ISIS-affiliated Muslim extremists in December of 2015. Is religious discrimination an ethical issue here? A candidate should be civil and ethically competent, and each message communicated to the public should be carefully prepared. Any words should be delicate to different ideologies, views, or values of the people (Robert & Denton, 2000, p. ).
While ISIS is a real problem for the whole world, should an entire religion be punished for the terroristic actions of a select few followers? The executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, Nihad Awad, thinks that Trump’s “inflammatory rhetoric has crossed the line from spreading hatred to inciting violence” (Rappeport, 2016, para. 4). By marginalizing a minority of future and current American citizens, Trump capitalizes on the fears of many within the American electorate.
While his position may have political merit, Trump’s statements on Muslim immigrants violate several ethical principles: . Immigration played a minor role in the San Bernardino shootings. One of the perpetrators was a U. S. born American citizen. Excluding a particular sect could serve to only further marginalize and radicalize religious extremists who might otherwise have normally integrated into American society. 2. Religious exclusion violates the founding principles of the U. S. Many of America’s original immigrants came to the U. S. to escape religious persecution, and separation of church and state is written into the U. S. constitution (REFERENCE).
Additionally, by excluding immigration, Trump’s policies could disenfranchise current American citizens and impact positive economic impacts such as the importation of talent and labor (REFERENCE). Being a presidential candidate requires a lot of understanding of people who live in the country, and there are 3. 3 million Muslims of all ages in America (www. pewresearch. org). Donald Trump’s statements, regardless of their intent, promote a culture of bigotry. He should publicly revise his position and acknowledge the contribution of Muslim Americans to the fabric of American society.
Sex Discrimination Elizabeth Mae Davidson, 26, a woman who worked for Donald Trump as an organizer denounced his presidential campaign of gender discrimination as she filled the compliance with the Davenport Civil Rights Commission. Working in Davenport, Iowa she noticed that women ($2000/month) and men ($3500-4000/month) were paid unequally for the same jobs. Was the discrimination an ethical issue here? In order for a campaign to be ethical, candidates should be responsible for employees that represent on their personal interest.
There are two kinds of campaigns- campaign communications and campaign finance. According to campaign finance, money should be spent with integrity (Nadler & Schulman, 2015, para. 9). Discrimination of any sort is an ethical problem. People should be rewarded on merit rather than personal attributes such as religion or gender. Such discrimination is a serious form of injustice that should not be rampant in a U. S. candidate’s presidential campaign. Gender-based discrimination can lead to a sense of insecurity, lost productivity, and loss of self-worth.
There was no reason to set different salaries for the same campaign job (Cooper, 2001, p. 565) It is important not only to pretend to be a good candidate for a presidential position, but to be a good candidate. Gender discrimination is not only unethical, but helps to associate Donald Trump with disrespect to women, which could alienate him to female and male voters alike. He should set payment at the same levels for all workers depending on their job position without any attachments to their gender. Donald Trump should make a public apology and avoid such mistakes in the future.
Ethical violations can happen anywhere, the question is whether a person can work with a failure and try to avoid mistakes in the future. Having an unethical presidential campaign is bad not only for the population, especially followers, but also for the reputation of the person who has a poor performance. A single unethical incident can negatively impact the person as a brand and undermine trust and respect (Ferrell, 2005, p. 8). Needless to say, if unethical behavior becomes a recurrent theme, the person responsible for such misconduct is much less likely to change these behaviors.
Political campaigns should seek to meet the needs of their targeted populace while at the same time signaling to the rest of the world that they will be conscientious leaders. They should choose their words and actions very carefully in order to avoid causing harm to people of any religion, gender or beliefs. Those politicking for the Presidential position should have a sense of the magnitude of their office and the extent of their own personal limits. They should choose the words and actions very carefully in order to avoid harming any people of any religion, gender, or beliefs.
Even though many of Donald Trump’s acts may be directed toward political victory, his position should necessitate placing a higher priority on morality and ethics. As campaigns are based on candidates’ qualities, these people should be honest and respectful.. Stereotyping, name-calling, or insinuation debases a campaign and removes its ethical foundations (Nadler & Schulman, 2015, para. 6). Given the academic literature and Donald Trump’s campaign behavior, this analysis can come to no other conclusion than that his presidential campaign is unethical.