Doing a good job or being true to your conscience?

Is this just another story about a man that cannot deal with his own sexuality? It seems so, for Californian State Senator Roy Ashburn who has come out as gay, who has a voting record that has opposed every social initiative to support gay rights in California.

However, Senator Ashburn says that he did the right thing by supporting the views of his majority conservative constituents. He is quoted here in The Christian Science Monitor as saying: “My votes reflect the wishes of the people in my district,”

Is he right? Is his private life and that of our politicians ever relevant in the way they vote?

This conservative blogger believes he should stick to his conservative agenda despite his sexuality.

So is he an honest politician? Should he be admired for promoting his constituents interests and agenda and not his own? Is he a dishonourable man because of the way he voted and conducted his political agenda, despite his sexuality? Or should he leave his ‘personal’ life at the door of his political life?

21 Responses to “Doing a good job or being true to your conscience?”

  1. 1 username
    March 9, 2010 at 18:31

    I wish we had representatives who voted according to the wishes of those who elected them instead of their own personal views or the views of their party

    • 2 samuel johnson
      March 12, 2010 at 02:53

      So let’s have government by opinion poll. No politician should vote on any issue unless they have already taken an opinion poll on how people feel about the subject. So why have politicians? Automate the whole process thru polls.


      It is a political aspirant’s job to get elected based on his/her sincerely held opinions and values. It is their job to take positions based on their deeply held and consistently maintained values. If their values don’t resonate with the public then they will be voted out. But, at least, they won’t have been sleazy, pandering, wind vanes twisting and turning to every change in public opinion.

      Winston Churchill was in the political wilderness for decades because he wouldn’t compromise on his core beliefs and morals. He guided GB thru WW2. Chamberlain kowtowed to ephemeral public opinion and appeased Britain into WW2.

      Who would you rather have been?

  2. 3 Ibrahim in UK
    March 9, 2010 at 18:33

    It depends on the job and the circumstances.

    A public servant serves the public. If someone cannot in good conscience do the will of the majority, they should not join politics in a democracy. No democracy will ever produce decisions that always agree 100% with your own morality, so almost every politician will end up either betraying their own conscience or betraying the contract with the people (which also betrays their own conscience). Which betrayal is the most damaging?
    In modern politics, however, “doing a good job” has become synonomous with doing whatever it takes (including lying to the public) to serve individual and private/corporate interests. To a soldier, “Doing a good job” means obeying orders regardless of conscience. To a banker, it means meeting profit targets etc… The people who are the most willing to do the job and sacrifice conscience, will usually be the ones who succeed in their job and rise to the top of the bank/government/company etc.
    Conscience is seen as an obstacle to success.

  3. 4 John in Salem
    March 9, 2010 at 18:47

    It is a sad reflection on the state of our system of government that we should be surprised at a politician with the integrity to actually represent the people who put him in office rather than his own personal feelings.
    I don’t agree with most of his positions but I would be proud to have someone of that caliber representing me.

  4. 5 Wendy Moshirfatemi
    March 9, 2010 at 18:58

    I’ll never understand why or how a minority could willingly advance the cause of those who would oppress them. No, Ashburn’s actions have not been honorable. Who knows if he would have ever even come out if not for being arrested on suspicion of DUI?

  5. 6 viola
    March 9, 2010 at 19:06

    I would ask whether he ran on an anti-gay platform when he was elected.

  6. 7 Dennis Junior
    March 9, 2010 at 19:35

    Or should he leave his ‘personal’ life at the door of his political life?

    No, Roy Ashburn and other political officials should not be forced to leave the ‘personal’ life @ the “door”….


  7. 8 patti in cape coral
    March 9, 2010 at 21:12

    I’m totally confused! On the one hand, I guess he is to be admired for setting his own feelings aside, and on the other hand, he is taking a position he knows to be wrong so he does not lose his political backing…. I just don’t know.

  8. 9 Bert
    March 9, 2010 at 21:37

    The “right thing to do” is to stand by the principles he advertized during his campaign, thereby representing those who elected him. The wrong thing to do, for a politician in a demcracy, is to misrepresent your views and goals while campaigning, then turn around and do whatever you please after the electorate has given you this position of privilege.

    In western style democracies, people are not looking for messiahs as their elected officials. They are looking for people who will represent THEM, or at least a high percentage of them, when carrying on the business of running the government.

    In principle, assuming the wishes of his constituents and his own wishes are truly in conflict, he could also perticipate in citizen groups as a private citizen, I suppose.

  9. 10 Jaime Saldarriaga
    March 10, 2010 at 00:30

    To me if it is a moral issue. like in this case, the politician should make a moral choice.

  10. 11 T
    March 10, 2010 at 01:03

    He’s a hypocrite for this reason. He consistently voted for legislation that intentionally hurt many of his gay constituents. Apparently the entire time while he knew that he was gay.

    Because of this, he should resign. FYI: In the States this is getting WAY more coverage than the massacre in Nigeria. Why?

  11. 12 steve
    March 10, 2010 at 12:20

    How is he being a hypocrite if he thinks those were the views of his constituents. There are plenty of people in politics, who for political reasons, go against their own personal beliefs, for the sake of being elected. Many people who personally oppose abortion, vote to support it, because they think that will get them elected. Are they hypocrites?

    Imagine being a politician in west virginia and voting against coal. You’d be voted out of office. So despite whatever environmental views you might have, voting against coal would be political suicide. Is that politician a hypocrite?

  12. 13 Subhash C Mehta
    March 10, 2010 at 14:04

    Anyone’s personal life does and will always come in the way of one’s political life; Being a public figure, one is bound to be glared at, and if one hides or chooses to declare one’s different/true identity, as an after thought or at some convenient/ opportune time, then it’s certainly deplorable and not in the least commendable; to call any or such disclosures conscientious is being hypocritical.

  13. 14 gary indiana
    March 10, 2010 at 14:15

    Mr. Ashburn’s past and present actions prove a simple fact: The value of the commodity “integrity’, as it is that of every other one, is decided in the market place. One may applaud his so called selflessness in “representing” his constituency, or condemn his hypocrisy; but at end he is just another liar who made money living a lie.

  14. 15 Amara from Nigeria
    March 10, 2010 at 14:43

    Why is he contradicting his agenda by his practices?I believe he should lead an exemplary life as a public figure.This will go a long way in giving momentum to his opposition of ‘Gay Rights’.He’s a ‘HYPOCRITE’ ,this is absolutely ridiculous.

  15. March 10, 2010 at 16:19

    This politician should be commended for putting the interest of his people first. I hope other politicians would take after such conscience. However, politics been corrupt has made doubt if we were ever to get more politicians following suit.

  16. 17 Peter Gizzi UK
    March 10, 2010 at 16:27

    As a fellow homosexual I find it strange he stood for office in the first place? It would seem he put money and power first?

  17. 18 nora
    March 10, 2010 at 16:57

    Mr. Ashburn represents a district in Kern County, CA. Antique shops there sell signs that say “Kern County, arrive on vacation, leave on probation”. It is blessed with snowy mountains, rushing water, pristine freshwater beaches hidden behind ancient trees, conservative christians and meth labs despoiling lakes and streams.

    As a gay man’s sister, I am not into outing anyone. That should be a personal choice. He would not have won if he were honest about his sexuality on the first round. We will see if he runs again. Perfect answers exist in a perfect society. Hypocrites flourish in a hypocritical society. Thus our flood of groping, closeted public officials.

    As for why there is more coverage of Ashburn than Nigeria–the same reason that your shows about body image and fat and Tiger bring in a larger cohort than hard news (no pun intended…)

  18. 19 Clamdip
    March 10, 2010 at 17:48

    That’s the problem with politicians. They sell out. We need people with a strong moral compass to do what’s right for our country not sell out to big business and lobbying payouts. Politicians only do what serves their employment needs not the middle class. We need a voice for plain folk to make our lives easier. Is there even one non criminal in Washington?

  19. 20 steve
    March 10, 2010 at 21:08

    Wow! I finally agree with clamdip on something! We elect sociopaths to office. They will do/say anything to get the power they crave.

  20. 21 pendkar
    March 11, 2010 at 18:45

    If people could air what they perceive as threats to society in allowing gay people their rights and weigh them using universal standards of right, wrong, and compassion instead of applying set doctrines, such paradoxes may not arise.

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