Which is more important, loyalty or honesty?
Many supporters of President Donald Trump believe loyalty is more important.
Case in point: They are working hard to destroy the character and careers of federal employees who have raised concerns that Trump might have abused his power and violated the law.
Trump’s supporters are following the lead of the president, who frequently calls his critics disloyal, accuses them of treason and suggests they be jailed.
Demands for unconditional loyalty also are made by such officials as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who has said that those who disagree with Trump’s conduct should resign, rather than report possible criminal activity.
“If you reach a point where … they’re asking you to do something that’s illegal or something that you find just violates your core moral principles, you have a singular option, and that is to leave the organization,” Pompeo said.
According to a Topeka Capital-Journal article, Pompeo was talking about dissenting points of view in the State Department, where longtime public servants make a career of working for Republicans and Democrats.
Pompeo’s comments are worth considering in the context of whistleblowers and impeachment proceedings, primarily because they run counter to good practices for both government and business.
No reputable company or organization equates disloyalty with whistleblowing.
In fact, most businesses and other entities understand that the interests of the organization supersede those of any supervisor or boss. That’s why companies and organizations have written codes that strongly encourage employees to speak up when they see possible misconduct. Further, they promise to protect employees who report suspected wrongdoing.
This is from Boeing’s material on the subject:
“At Boeing, we believe that creating an environment where employees are comfortable raising issues and concerns without fear of retaliation enables openness which can lead to improved business performance and inspire greater innovation. Boeing maintains policies and procedures to encourage employees to report concerns and seek guidance, using confidential and, when preferred, anonymous methods …”
And here’s a bit from Microsoft:
“Employees will not suffer adverse consequences or retaliation for … Refusing to do something that violates the Microsoft Standards of Business Conduct, policies, or the law, even if this refusal results in the loss of business to Microsoft.”
Now, companies don’t always follow their own codes perfectly. But the rules are there, defining their values in black and white: Your duty is to the company, not your boss.
Government agencies have similar rules, such as this one from the Executive Branch’s Code of Federal Regulations: “Employees shall disclose waste, fraud, abuse, and corruption to appropriate authorities.”
Federal employees are not just allowed to report possible wrongdoing, they are required to do so. Put another way: Our federal employees’ loyalty should be to the country and the Constitution, not to their boss.
Lately, though, those who follow the ethics code have been vilified by the president and members of Congress. Because facts of the investigation don’t support the president’s inaccurate claims, Trump and his supporters malign the character of those testifying at House impeachment proceedings.
Rather than doubt the principles and patriotism of men and women who follow the rules by reporting possible misconduct, Americans should question the values of those resort to dishonest smears to save the boss’s job.
A native of Garden City, Julie Doll is a former journalist who has worked at newspapers across Kansas.