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The responsibility of public offices becomes a vital force in making liberal and democratic institutions work.

Officials have obligations to make outcomes that constituents will approve of. They should make judgments within the constitutional values but also within in the view of the publics demands. Additionally they should be respectful of the law that gives them the power. The pressure of exercising power can wear down obligations, commitments, and capacities. The power can transform officials in ways that can cause them to abuse their power. The exercise of power involves living up to obligations of office, set by the legal and role expectations and promises that go with the position. Officials sometimes in office must sometimes act against their own personal convictions or self-interest to meet the obligations of office. People feel committed to making decision not necessarily in favor of what is right but what would boast their own political agenda sometimes. The more public the commitment the more strongly it is held. Integrity in public office depends upon a firm sense of personal responsibility. An individual self-worth is influenced by images reflected from others. The elevation of office coupled with the urgency of its responsibilities can lead people to believe that a different standard of morality applies to them. One of the most important temptations involved in exercising power is the inflation of self-worth. The overwhelming sense of their own strength leads officials to believe they are beyond accountability and behave without fear of their consequences. Power can also invite in arrogance. People with more power at their disposal tend to use it to get their own way.

The temptation to have enemies become advisors leads to secrecy. Secret power sometimes leads individual to believe they will never get called out for their actions. All power does not end up corrupted but all power has been tempted. One example of abuse of power is displayed in the play A Man for All Seasons by Robert Bolt. Sir Thomas More is the chancellor to Henry VIII who has left the Roman Catholic Church. Sir Thomas is pressured by Henry to leave the church as he did and slow to show support for his divorce from Catherine. To top it off he also wants Sir Thomas to give his support in the future marriage to his mistress Anne Boleyn. Sir Thomas knows that he does not want to leave his church are turn away from his obligations and commitments. He basically told his daughter that if he gives his support to Henry then he loses himself and he will not find himself again. So instead of joining in support or turning against Henry and join the others in revolt he becomes silent and looks for ways within in the law to keep him and his family safe. But, unfortunately he is ultimately convicted of treason and beheaded.

Public Adminstration and Ethics POLS 5354 Fall 2011

Public Ethics and the Problem of Character Chapter 2&3 In Dobel