The Codependence of Morality and Politics

Eli Diamant '22, Guest Writer

When Americans think about politics, moral equivalence is often afforded each of the political parties. However, in this day of both bipartisanship and overtly different social priorities dividing the country, it is crucial to recognize that politics and morality are, in fact, interdependent. Labeling differing beliefs about human rights, social welfare, and race should not be seen as mere political differences; they are much more than that. Politics is the inevitable consequence of humans as social creatures. Any group of people with a social decision-making structure is, by nature, political, whether it is labeled as such or not. The separation of morality and politics functions to separate us as moral agents from the decision-making that directly impacts our roles as responsible community members. 

Moral character is frequently determined by virtues; courage, temperance, patience, kindness, humility, and others along those lines. It is necessary for these characteristics to be considered in politics for many reasons. A goal of political decision-making should be to help better the lives of as many members of society as possible, which requires political leaders to practice the aforementioned virtues. To separate morality from politics is to strip our social nature from our social decision-making process, which is illogical. Even a neutral view of morality includes our social-moral relationships with others: where there are humans, there must exist morality and politics. Where morality and politics exist, principles of justice and freedom necessitate that certain particular virtues be practiced. 

Those who say political disagreements should not end friendships seem to misunderstand how deeply interdependent morality and politics are. Your political views represent your moral values and vice versa, and anyone who supports immorality through their political action is misguided and either actively or passively choosing to ignore the facts. Thinking the economy is more important than human rights is immoral, according to most ethicists and what many would consider to be common sense. Thinking racism is not a deciding factor in political action is also similarly immoral. Problems in politics are rooted in differences in morality. Separating these two is to do an injustice to those marginalized by political problems that have arisen through the false premise of policy. All philosophy—and thus ethics and morals—are functionally pointless without applicability. Thus, all members of society should seek to apply their moral responsibilities through the use of political institutions that seek to uphold an ethical standard.