U.S. Presidential candidate, Senator John McCain, appeared to flip-flop today (April 10, 2008) in his position on what to do about the sub-prime mortgage crisis.

In March 2008 McCain said that “it is not the duty of government to bail out and reward those who act irresponsibly, whether they are big banks or small borrowers,” noting there had been “rampant speculation” by both lenders and borrowers that had caused them to act irresponsibly.

Today he said that “there is nothing more important than keeping alive the American dream to own your home, and priority number one is to keep well-meaning, deserving home owners who are facing foreclosure in their homes.”

So, is this yet another politician being wishy-washy and pandering to what he now believes the public wants him to say? Or is this a leader demonstrating "teachability," one of the core aspects of integrity that I cover in my book about integrity entitled The New IQ?

Politicians who over-simplify issues take positions that might seem "politically correct" at the time but which do not contribute to creating viable long-term solutions that resolve the causes of problems rather than merely control symptoms in the short term. Over-simplification damages government’s ability to serve collective highest good while protecting individual freedom and responsibility.

Politicians who do not know how to educate citizens in a balanced way about what the real issues are, rather than resorting to spin while making it appear like education. Spin destroys discernment and thus prevents the truly honest and balanced dialogue that is necessary for co-creating viable solutions.

Over-simplification and spin are two forms of lack of politician integrity that threaten our ability to function as a democracy.

So, before jumping to judgment one way or another about McCain’s change in position, consider the following: which of the three main US Presidential candidates are educating the public in a truly balanced spin-free way about all of the factors that must go into creating a solution to the lack of integrity that created the mortgage crisis and our current recession?

Who is showing that they have the guts to say that any government intervention must simultaneously address BOTH the "collective highest good" issues the current financial crisis has created AND the fact that it is not government’s job to rescue EITHER businesses OR citizens from the consequences of their own lack of integrity?

Show me a candidate with the following qualities and I will show you a candidate with true Politician Integrity:

  • The guts to be a true educator with the American public
  • The ethics to hold accountable those whose lack of integrity created a problem we have
  • The wisdom to insist, in the name of democracy, on solutions that simultaneously address collective highest good while preserving individual freedom and responsibility
  • The smarts to know how to facilitate the co-creation of practical do-able solutions at the level of root cause rather than symptom control

As the campaign continues to unfold, I will continue watch for evidence that Senators McCain, Clinton and Obama show they have the will to consistently demonstrate these traits of Politician Integrity. I strongly suggest that you do too. I believe that the candidate to vote for come November is not necessarily the one who is a member of a specific political party, or the one whose stances I most agree with, but rather the one who most exhibits the qualities I have desribed above.

For more about the top ten dimensions of Politician Integrity, consult my Politician Integrity Rating Tool. For more about upgrading your own integrity intelligence so that you can also insist on these traits in your leaders and in those in your personal and work life, read The New IQ: How Integrity Intelligence Serves You, Your Relationships and Our World and use its companion, The New IQ Integrity Makeover Workbook.