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Erosion of Ethics and Decorum in American Politics


By Mike Fulford

Standards of Conduct and Ethical Behavior in American Politics? Whether it's national or local politics, pick a day or a topic, something is clearly changing and not for the better. When our elected leaders are more concerned about perpetuating their own existence and furthering their own agenda, who is to blame? Perhaps voters deserve the government we elect? Are term limits the answer?

I was told many years ago, and quickly learned that all politics are local. So, let's talk about Hernando County Politics. We elect our Constitutional Officers, County Commissioners, School Board, and State Representatives in Hernando County. Is there a political dynasty in Hernando County that assures continuity of succession and leadership? Terms like "political puppets" and "puppet master" are sometimes frequent terms used when describing Hernando County politics. Are endorsements by local labor unions, business associations and current politicians routinely given in order to assure continuity of power and succession?

Recently I viewed a Hernando County School Board meeting. I viewed the 4 PM pre meeting and discussion where a member was in essence accusing a fellow member of what they believed to be an un-ethical act in order to obtain a controversial book from a local school library. Evidence was in the form of a security video obtained by what may have been questionable methods. Of course there is always more to the story, but appeared to be just another attempt at a partisan act and lack of civility by an elected official. The school board meeting that followed that evening, in my opinion, was something that could compete with the "Jerry Spring Show". Now we as taxpayers pay the salaries of these elected officials and are also responsible in part because we elect them to public office.

As it relates to last year's county commission race, in the history of Hernando County, this race was the most expensive race to date in terms of the monies spent. Interestingly enough, monies may have been spent, but not reported so there is currently an investigation ongoing by the Florida Election Ethics Commission in order to determine guilt or innocence. We are a nation of laws and everyone regardless of race, creed or gender is presumed innocent until proven otherwise.

What does the future hold for Hernando County voters and how can we address the sense of entitlement, disregard for ethical behavior, and lack of decorum in our body politic? I would suggest it starts with each and every one of us as registered voters. Residents of this great nation have the constitutional right and responsibility to vote each and every opportunity we are given. There is an election upcoming in November 2024. Constitutional Officers, School Board, and County Commission as well as our State Representative are on the local ballot as well as our national elected officials. It is time now to get educated and learn about the candidates that have filed to run for public office.


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