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But’ can be the most important part

Letter to the Editor | Thursday, January 18, 2007

In Eric Kosmo’s Nov. 30 Letter to the Editor, “Stop using the ‘but,'” he discusses the politicians today who use the “I am personally opposed, but…” line as a means to help legislate that which they claim to be morally opposed to. Kosmo is staunchly against this method of politics, claiming that “a politician cannot support publicly what he knows is wrong personally.”

This tactic seems to be ever more popular among current politicians, and politicians should not run for office under a moral campaign as a means of getting elected just to completely disregard these promises once in office. However, there are some cases when politicians need to realize that what they personally believe is not going to best suit the country. It is in these cases when it is important and necessary to go against their own morals. As former governor of New York Mario Cuomo said, “All religiously based values don’t have an a priori place in our public morality. The community must decide if what is being proposed would be better left to private discretion than public policy”(Religious Belief and Public Morality delivered to the University of Notre Dame on Sept. 13, 1984). A politician should use his morals as a framework for his decision making, but also know that as an elected official for the people, he will have to sometimes go against his beliefs to create a better country. Take, for example, a Catholic senator who does not believe in sex before marriage. This senator may try and impose his values on the society by banning the use of contraceptives, but by doing so he would not be doing his job; he is supposed to ensure that the legislation passed will best benefit the nation. In fact, there are some situations when a politician can support publicly what he knows is wrong personally.

I know that I want my elected official to have a moral backbone to help guide him on important decisions. At the same time, I can only hope that our elected officials have the sense to realize when they can or cannot impose their moral beliefs on society.

Jennifer Burke


Farley Hall

Dec. 6