Ok, now I’ve got a bit of time.
Tell me if the following assumptions are reasonable:
[color=blue]1. We can distinguish between the duties of a) citizen, b) partisan political leader, c) political office holder.[/color]
i) while public spiritedness is laudable, a citizen is free to pursue his private interests, so far as these do not fall afoul of specifically proscribed acts.
ii) in the service of his office, a partisan political leader is bound to serve the interests of his constituency, and this responsibility imposes constraints on his freedom to pursue private interests.
iii) in the service of his office, a political office holder is bound to serve the interests of state and nation, and this responsibility imposes constraints on his freedom to pursue both partisan political ends and private interests.
[color=blue]2. People naturally, and rightly, have multiple loyalties. Self identity is plural.[/color]
[color=black](I know that this will be a contentious point, but give it a sympathetic reading, please.)[/color]
To take an example from Sen…[quote=“Amartya Sen”]The same person can, for example, be a British citizen, of Malaysian origin, with Chinese racial characteristics, a stockbroker, a nonvegetarian, an asthmatic, a linguist, a bodybuilder, a poet, an opponent of abortion, a bird-watcher, an astrologer, and one who believes that God created Darwin to test the gullible.[/quote] [color=black]Thus far, I believe this point is both robust, and insignificant. Agreed?[/color]
[color=blue]3. In particular situations, particular aspects of self will naturally be relevant, or not.[/color] If I’m going to dinner with a group of vegetarians, my identity as a carnivore is relevant, whereas my identity as a hockey player is not.
[color=blue]4. In particular situations, which aspect of self will acquire significance is a matter of choice.[/color] Looking at Marilyn Monroe’s Playboy centerfold, the character of my experience will vary according to the aspect of self that is emphasized: do I approach the image as a) a red-blooded male, b) an aesthetic, c) a (poor) student of photography, d) a student of history (first Playmate, after all).
In some situations, the choice regarding which aspect of my self will be emphasized will not be my choice. If my girlfriend sees me looking at Marilyn’s centerfold, she’ll immediate define me as a) a red-blooded male (and a bastardly one at that). Sexism, racism, and religious bigotry falls into this category.
[color=blue]5. Identities can be contrasting or noncontrasting.[/color] Contrasting identities are those dealing with the same kind of membership, or addressing the same issue. A person may be politically liberal and religiously conservative, without conflict. Or, depending on the specifics of his commitments, or scope and ambition of the political/ religious communities to which he subscribes, they may conflict on specific issues. If there’s a conflict, a choice will have to be made. That choice may affect his standing in one or both communities.
[color=black]Thus far, fair enough?[/color]
Historically, there are few examples of individuals successfully negotiating divided state-loyalties. (One example comes to mind: John Kenneth Galbraith was once appointed by Canada and the US to what was supposed to be a two-person, international commission to iron out an issue of aviation and border controls. He wore both hats. But that’s a nonzero sum situation.)
However, there are many examples of individuals having divided state-religion loyalties. These differences were worth dying over, and thus non-trivial. They continue to be an issue… though not often one of life and death. (I note that the Governor-General cannot, by definition, be a Catholic. An archaic hangover of British Protestant-Catholic conflicts, but a pertinent echo of past bitterness on the point of divided loyalties.) I think state-religion tensions provide an excellent analogy for thinking through divided state-loyalties.
Consider the position of a politically liberal person who belongs to the Roman Catholic Church. (For the thought experiment I assume that his status as a committed Catholic is roughly analogous to state citizenship.) That person may be torn, between a political creed of non-interference in the lives of others, and a religious commitment to oppose abortion. That’s a private matter of identity conflict. The choice to be made is a private matter. But, that same person may be subject to a state prohibition on protests within sight of an abortion clinic, and a Church edict to protect the innocent; the one backed by judicial penalties (prison), the other with ecclesiastical penalties (excommunication). In that case, others are going to attempt to impose a primary identity on the individual. But, while society at large recognizes the authority of the state, the choice and consequences fall on the individual citizen/ congregation member. (Apparently a zero sum situation… one party’s going to lose… and possibly seek retribution.)
The position of a political office holder who is a member of the Roman Catholic Church is different. In the exercise of a private commitment to the Church, he is subject to the same constrain (1. iii, above) that applies to his private interests and partisan ends: “in the service of his office, a political office holder is bound to serve the interests of state and nation, and this responsibility imposes constraints on his freedom to pursue both partisan political ends and private interests.” His religious commitments may, legitimately (point 3, above), inform his deliberations, but any decision must speak to the interests of the constituency he serves (and speak in its particular terms). This is the position taken by Catholic PMs Chretien and Martin with regards to same-sex marriage. The congregations to which they belong attempted to exert pressure, but as political office holders they ruled such private pressures out of order… in Martin’s case, apparently, with great difficulty. I believe that this is essentially the same position VP Cheney finds himself in. His daughter considers herself married to her female partner–and is now expecting a child, congrats to them–but his party is opposed to same sex marriage and the state does not recognize such a union. The only difference, I believe, is that he’s recognizing a lesser constraint 1. ii) “in the service of his office, a partisan political leader is bound to serve the interests of his constituency, and this responsibility imposes constraints on his freedom to pursue private interests.”
Now, if society can accept political leaders exercising this kind of discretion, choosing between deep political and religious commitments on different levels of responsibility, why not accept the analogous situation: being a political office holder in one constituency and a citizen in another? Analogous choices are made by political figures with business interests all the time, albeit with differing levels of safeguards. And seriously, what’s the greater danger, private financial interests… say, former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder negotiating with the Russians before the end of his political career and taking over the Northern European Gas Pipeline, or former PM Chretien dealing with the Chinese before (while?) setting up his own financial kingdom… or private citizenship? I know that national service is supposed to trump private concerns, and that’s the way it’s often seen (point 4) but seriously…?