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Voting is an inevitable act if a citizen wants to partake lawfully in the electoral process, but different methods can sway public opinion effectively. Campaign funding by voters already garners an ethical query, as it may be seen as an infringement upon a citizen’s freedom of political choice. The dilemma, however, arises when an elected president retains not only a financially advanced position, that allowed them to influence the funded campaign but also conserves personal business interests separate from presidential commitments.
The election of Donald Trump in 2016 was not the first US selection of a businessperson as president, but it was the first of its kind of scale wherein the business was not relinquished after an appointment. President of the United States (POTUS) Donald John Trump “controls real estate, hotels, golf courses across the country and all over the world,” which makes him involved in matters that his presidency might directly aid (Goldman, 2016, para. 16). Ridding the POTUS of his many businesses may have been as unethical as leaving them since both possible choices retain the fact that personal interest in a matter is a non-erasable factor.
The 2016 election was of interest to numerous strata of the population, from ordinary citizens to other business executives who were concerned with the implications this would have for their own companies. Thus, if stakeholders are identified as those having the power to demand answerability from those they have elected, then all voting citizens of the US may be considered as having an interest in the described situation (Lokman & Talib, 2016). With the running of Trump for president and his eventual victory, electoral, financial, and political transparency effectively became the concern of US citizens.
It is now possible, having identified the offending dilemma and the invested stakeholders, to approach the situation not only from a time-distanced perspective but also in light of evaluating the results of the taken actions. Svara’s (2015) problem-solving model best permits identifying the selected ethical decisions and obligations through discerning who, what, where, why, and when. The dilemma, thus, sounds like this: POTUS Donald Trump maintains business interests within his companies, which may be aided by himself during his own presidency.
While Congress in 2016 did not press Trump to rid himself of his holdings, he willingly resigned held company positions to his immediate children (Goldman, 2016). These actions result in the preservation of the current continuing in 2018 conflict of interests between him as a president and as a business executive.
Ridding the POTUS of his businesses or allowing continued operability within the Trump family, attempting to limit operations from an international to a national level or taking no action at all – neither activity is productive. A POTUS receiving a nongovernmental salary from worldwide business profits may continue to be one of the most pressing ethical dilemmas for modern-day capitalism and politics (Cooper, 2012). The continuing scrutiny of Trump as POTUS, sustained criticism of him as an interested party in business operations, demonstrates the impossibility of effectively resolving the issue.
It would seem that the best way to solve an ethical dilemma is to avoid it coming to fruition, as the current case of POTUS business operations remains insoluble. Executed courses of action remain inadequate in part not only due to the nature of the case study as an ethical dilemma but also because of their essence of compromise between two contradictory options. The continuing conflict of interests, made possible through the election of Donald Trump as president in 2016, create an unprecedented situation in American business and politics.
The described situation has come into public view and remains to this day unresolvable, posing interest to all those observing. The inability of electors to influence possible resolutions of the situation due to their involvement in the process beyond voting represents possible additional issues within itself. These past actions have resulted in the current conglomeration of events, which have given rise to more new ethical dilemmas concerning the position of POTUS.
Cooper, T. L. (2012). The responsible administrator: An approach to ethics for the administrative role (6th ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
Lokman, A., & Talib, A. T. (2016). Approaches to ethics for public administrators. Journal of Administrative Science, 13(2), 1-8. Web.
Svara, J. H. (2015). The ethics primer for public administrators in government and nonprofit organizations (2nd ed.). Burlington, MA: Jones and Bartlett Learning.
Goldman, D. (2016). Donald Trump’s 500 businesses would pose ‘unprecedented ethical dilemma.’ Web.