Morality And Our Elected Officials

Photo Credit: Dietmut Teijgeman-Hansen / CC

Published June 2, 2021

By Rob Mitchell [Assessor of Property, Rutherford County, TN]-

Morality is a system of values and beliefs, as well as principles of conduct. Moralistic behavior is characterized by such traits as honesty, integrity, humility, courage and compassion. 

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Ideally, elected officials embody these traits. As they are in a position of power and must make decisions that affect their constituents. The character of an elected official must reflect well the character of the community from which they were chosen.   
 
 The following is a list of said traits many citizens believe  a true leader should display: honesty, integrity, empathy, courage, humility, intelligence, diplomacy, loyalty and pragmatism. 
 
Interestingly, the first five characteristics identified by residents precisely define moral character, especially since empathy may be considered synonymous with compassion. 

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Phrases that are used to further describe desired qualities of elected officials included: “aware of the facts and statistics,” “having a strong backbone and a love of our country,” “the ability and desire to protect and preserve our constitutional rights,” “able to make tough decisions and take responsibility for the consequences.” 
 
It’s important to have elected officials who will bring people together. They need to be humble, as their role is to serve the citizens who elected them. They must be willing to put the people’s  interests before their own. They need to be wise, in order to hire the best advisors. They need to be empathetic, in order to understand how their policies affect others. They need to be courageous, in order to stand up to threats, be they foreign or domestic. 


Elected officials need to prioritize an economy that has enough for everyone to prosper, good infrastructure and safety, an educational system for all children. Political parties need to find common ground and work together. People want humility, civility and common sense policies. 
 
An elected official should know how the government works. Times demand a strong understanding of this.  They should listen to advisors and ponder solutions based on facts. They should understand that actions have consequences . They should abide by the Constitution and laws. They must use the powers of their office wisely, not for personal gain. They should show respect for all Americans and demonstrate this by discharging their duties with humility. They were elected to serve and not to rule! A distinction often lost in the egos of the elected! 
 
The opinions of our citizens matter and their voices should be heard. Elected officials work for us and are paid by our tax dollars. 
 
How are our local officials reacting during these challenging times? In what ways do they respond to populations most in need? No matter their position on the governing hierarchy, elected officials are role models and leaders. As such, they must exude high levels of moral character. Immorality, inaction and incompetence are not options. 
 
As per the words of General Douglas MacArthur, “A true leader has the confidence to stand alone, the courage to make tough decisions, and the compassion to listen to the needs of others. He does not set out to be a leader, but becomes one by the equality of his actions and the integrity of his intent.” 

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About the Author:

Rob Mitchell is the Assessor of Property for Rutherford County, Tennessee. He earned the Certified Public Administrator Certification from the University of Tennessee County Technical Advisory Service. Mitchell was awarded the John C. Donehoo Award by the International Association of Assessing Officers. Mitchell’s office earned the Excellence on Operations from the Tennessee Association of Assessing Officers along with the Three Star Certification from the Tennessee Association of Assessing Officers every year since its inception. Mitchell has also been awarded the Middle Tennessee Assessor of the year (2015) and served as the President of the Middle Tennessee Association of Assessing Officers (2015-2020).

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