Republicans Have An Ethics Problem

Integrity matters

Jeremy Zerby
4 min readJan 3, 2023
Scrabble tiles placed three across in three rows spelling integrity
Photo by Brett Jordan.

Before I go any further, I am going to address the first response that is always dropped for a piece like this. I am well aware, and so is everyone else, that not all Republicans are unethical. I and everyone else, are well aware that not all Republicans support unethical things. I and everyone else are well aware that there are individual Republicans doing right. I and everyone else are well aware that there are Democrats that are up to some shady business.

This is not about individuals. This is not about individual Republicans or individual politicians. There are individual police officers who are not racists, but pointing that out does not change the fact there are very racist problems within the criminal justice system as a whole.

Individual Republicans may be people of integrity, but that does not change the fact that the GOP has a serious ethics problem right now.

I read this morning that, as part of their agenda as House majority, they intend to essentially gut the Office of Congressional Ethics. The rules changes they are proposing make the office harder to staff and remove Democrats from the office. In light of recent events, such as the debacle that was Herschel Walker, or, more recently, the laundry list of lies told by incoming senator George Santos, it gives one the impression that they are trying to pad things so the ethical failings of their own party can be brushed under the rug.

Republicans have a problem on their hands of their own making.

I am sure it runs deeper and goes back further (yes, on both sides, so do not even say it!), but we see the problem most clearly with the nomination and subsequent election of Donald Trump. They lowered the bar by choosing him. His moral and ethical problems are myriad. But it also set a precedent.

Look at the kinds of things Republicans are doing and saying currently. Look at who they are courting for votes and who they are aligning themselves with. Look at who they are nominating and supporting. Integrity and ethics have taken a back seat to winning. They have come to a point where they will nominate almost anyone if it means beating a Democrat.

What makes this an even bigger issue is that the GOP touts itself as the party of traditional family values. And yet, the people they are choosing to represent them show actions and attitudes that are wildly different from those values. When did it become a traditional value to lie about where you have worked so you can get a job? When did it become a traditional family value to talk about how, when you are rich, you can grab women by the pussy if you want to? When did it become a traditional family value to pay women to have abortions or steal from charities aimed at fighting childhood cancer or write fraudulent checks in a foreign country? These are all things that current representatives of the Republican party have on the public record.

Gutting the Ethics Office is just one more thing they are doing that does not align with the values they claim to represent.

I could be wrong, but I do not think that the Republican party of today looks anything like the party did in the time of Jerry Falwell and the moral majority. If it did, I feel like it would have been much more of a challenge to get Christians on board with supporting them rather than Democrats.

I remember things my grandpa and my dad have taught me about integrity and respect and morality. You were supposed to tell the truth and have integrity and hold others and yourself accountable when there was a slip-up. There was always a discipline structure within the church to address the failings of members or, especially, leadership. So it comes as no surprise to me when, especially, previous generations continue to support the Republican party on principle because, at one time, there was a sense in which that was the party that most aligned with some of those more traditional values.

That is also why it is so frustrating today that these same people still support them without question. Looking at how things are right now, I believe Republicans have lost all right to talk about ethics and integrity. They have no right to go after Hillary’s emails or Hunter Biden’s laptop because they are doing some of those very same things, blatantly and out in the open, and shrugging it off. And eliminating the checks and balances that could put a stop to it.

Republicans have an ethics problem on their hands. But that is not the end of the discussion. They can fix it. It starts by holding their own accountable for their actions and misdeeds. It is like the time Jesus was giving one of his talks, and he said,

“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

This is not an easy task, not for any of us actually. Sometimes, there is a lot of pain and sacrifice involved in doing this kind of personal work. It might mean not winning for a while. It might mean revamping the entire platform. For the voter, it might mean you have to question your loyalty to the party until they get their act together.

But the problem can not just be left to continue. If it is, it will spread. And can spell disaster for the entire thing.



Jeremy Zerby

Hermeneutics, religion, pop psychology, self-help, and culture. They are all connected, and I am here to explain how.