City & Local Ethics Podcast Series

With the 2012 national election now over, we can expect a steep drop in some kinds of political participation in our democracy--from campaign volunteering to learning about candidates and issues through the multitudinous media channels now available to encourage participation. These days, the most talked about channels of political and civic participation are social media. 

Americans seem to believe that if we assign more social responsibilities to our schools, and call on our teachers to take on even more roles, that somehow the nation will be prepared and able to withstand any and all tests. We have big ideas about education and its uses. Think about it. Since our beginnings, we have regarded schools as laboratories for citizenship. We have engraved onto school missions stringent requirements to build moral character and to pass on ethical values.

Given the sorry state of campaign ethics as we end the 2012 election season, we could write this question off as just more political spin, this time on behalf of the political spinners. 

We all know how difficult it can be to have an honest conversation with members of certain professions. Two examples come immediately to mind: corporate chieftains and politicians. We think this is especially true when the honest conversation we all wish for--is about ethics and some of the ethical dilemmas corporate execs and elected officials commonly face in their work.    

A national election year allows for both sagacious and salacious talk about ethics issues in the political arena. While most ethics talk fitfully follows what voters lose from negative and false political advertising, and superficially attends to the profound ethical dilemmas posed by the increasing link between income and political inequality, we think the local political arena offers some of the best insights about political ethics issues that impact us all.

Rich Robinson, Executive Director of the Michigan Campaign Finance Network has spent the last twelve years investigating the massive infusion of money into politics and its influence not only on politicians and politics, but on how it has changed who governs and holds political power in our state. 

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