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A Campaign Code of Ethics

What Presidential candidates Clinton, McCain, and Obama should and should not do from now until November

The campaign for the White House, which seems to have been going on forever, still has some months to run, and it's possible the nastiness, squabbling, and irrelevancies that have characterized this campaign—and too many before it—will get worse. This pettiness isn't just unpleasant or unfortunate; it's unethical, because it detracts from a meaningful debate about the issues that truly matter.

I therefore propose a code of ethics for the candidates to follow. Everyone—we citizens, the political parties, the democratic process, and the candidates themselves—will win if the candidates take this code. The proposed guidelines are rooted in the five fundamental principles of ethics: Do No Harm (BusinessWeek.com, 1/21/07), Make Things Better (BusinessWeek.com, 1/18/07), Respect Others (BusinessWeek.com, 1/31/07), Be Fair (BusinessWeek.com, 2/15/07), and Be Loving (BusinessWeek.com, 2/22/07). These principles are the bedrock not just of our democracy, but of all civilized societies, cultures, and religions. This code, therefore, makes sense not just for this election, but for all future ones as well.