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Immoral? Some Elected Officials Need A Dictionary & A Mirror

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Dana Milbank quotes Texas Rep. Pete Sessions (R):

I believe it is immoral for this country to have as a policy extending long-term unemployment to people rather than us working on creation of jobs.

From a terrific article by David Livingstone Smith:

[M]orality isn't just about what people do; it's also about why they do what they do. So it looks like if we want to understand morality, we need to look more deeply into the conditions under which a person can be said to be responsible for her actions. One requirement for moral responsibility is that a person's actions flow from their intentions. But this isn't enough.

In order for a person to be responsible for her actions, it is a sine qua non that she is capable of engaging in a process of rational deliberation to arrive at a judgment about the right thing to do. 

Without engaging the capacity for intelligent reflection and if one is merely going through the motions -- one's actions have the appearance of moral responsibility, but lack its substance.

All of this has an important implication for our treatment of others. It implies that we have a moral obligation not to weaken other people's capacity for autonomous rational deliberation. Unless we take this stance toward others, we are undermining their capacity to act as moral agents. A person who tries to influence others by tantalizing them with unrealistic promises, frightening them with stories of false or exaggerated threats, or otherwise obfuscating the issues, is attacking their capacity for moral responsibility. This sort of conduct is obviously immoral, for a person cannot coherently uphold virtue while undermining the very conditions that make virtue possible.
Pete Sessions
Pete Sessions
(Image by (From Wikimedia) US House of Representatives, Author: US House of Representatives)
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Congressman Sessions' online Congressional bio offers this:

I currently serve Chairman of the powerful House Rules Committee".  The Rules Committee assignment has allowed me to use my experience and personal values to influence every piece of legislation before it reaches the House floor in a responsible, reform-minded manner.

Someone ought to offer the man a map, because he took a wrong turn somewhere between responsible and moral. An elected official who in his own words is the Chair of a "powerful" House Committee has once again demonstrated his out-of-touch-with-life bona fides with another Tea-Party inspired piece of nonsense. What kind of person thinks like that about so many others suffering a day-to-day existence most of us can't imagine?

Perhaps he was absent the day elected officials were reminded that their roles encompass a do-they-even-have-to-be-told "capacity for intelligent reflection" so that his and those who follow his lead actually have some moral substance supporting their actions.

Unfortunately, as is now too often the case, this narrow-minded adherence to an ideology bearing little if any resemblance to compassionate, patriotic, or civic-minded efforts to promote the common good has real-life consequences for real-life citizens in America.

Pete Sessions' leadership role carries with it certain responsibilities to the public (sadly, that's becoming a nicer abstract theory than common practice). Among those obligations which he conveniently casts aside when it interferes with far-Right orthodoxy is to set an example for those who turn to him as a leader--one framed not just by basic human decency, but by facts and policies guiding others "about the right thing to do."

Instead, the zealous pursuit to disseminate "unrealistic promises;" foster obstruction at every turn; pursue tactics designed solely to keep supporters in a heightened state of anxiety and fear about a future designed by godless; America-hating; tax everything all the time; gay-marriage-supporting; death-panel-advocating, and evil to the core liberals, or otherwise "obfuscating the issues, is attacking their capacity for moral responsibility."

Must be nice to live in a world where beliefs and actions have no consequences".

Also from his website, Sessions asserts "my Republican colleagues and I in Congress must continue to fight to restore the American Dream for our children and grandchildren before it is completely bankrupted. We must get back to our founding, free-market principles and end big government and wasteful spending."

I'm sure the millions of decent, hard-working (if they have the chance) Americans being denied the barest of bare minimums to eat and keep roof over their heads are deeply gratified by the Congressman's concerns for our children and grandchildren. Apparently his website didn't have enough gigabytes left to explain that those children and grandchildren--indeed all of us pursuing the American Dream--do not include in the protected group the children and grandchildren of those millions of no doubt shiftless, lazy, expect-a-handout unemployeds enduring hardships no one in this of all countries should endure. Just rewards? Hardly.

The American Dream is apparently reserved for only those whom Sessions and his kind deem worthy of enjoying the rewards of a free-market system which has crashed around far too many of our fellow sisters and brothers.

As Mr. Livingstone Smith noted above:

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