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What matters most in politics: legality or morality?

The accident on the dreaded on the dreaded DN7 road involving a vehicle shuttling Transport Minister Lucian Bode between Zalu and Bucharest brought forth once more the debate over the responsibility and the abuse of power by Romanian officials: was Mr. Bode legally or morally responsible for the accident or not?
Strictly by the Highway Code, the answer is no, Mr. Bode was not at the wheel, so the legal responsibility lays strictly with the driver. Still, I doubt that Mr. Bode slept the entire trip from Zalu to Drganu, and I doubt that the driver patiently waited behind the other commoners while transiting the Olt Valley. In his ministerial wisdom, as Transport Minister, Mr. Bode should have said just three words: “Oi, slow down!” and history would have not troubled him now.  But he didn’t do it, so he missed a golden chance to enter the Romanian history books for the right kind of reasons.
However, morally speaking, Mr. Bode is guilty as charged, at least for sleeping indifferently in the official car rather than taking notice of the horrendous traffic conditions that the Romanian drivers were forced to experience.

Should he have stayed awake and waited in traffic behind the average Joe, Dick and Henry he would have also had the opportunity to reflect upon the need to solve the problem of traffic between Pitesti and Sibiu once and for all, and move his ministerial office in the tiny village of Cornetu until the said motorway was finished from one end to the other. But no, he slept during the entire trip, lullabied by a sweet siren and gently rocked by the skillful driving nanny, oblivious to the nightmare traffic that is, by the way, his responsibility to solve. Who needs a one-billion-euro motorway when the problem may be solved individually by turning on a siren and the warning lights?
We ask ourselves how on earth we have members of the parliament officially charged with various acts of corruption voting with both hands laws that are meant to take them off the hook. We ask ourselves why we have high-ranking policemen meeting underworld leaders in dubious places in the still of the night rather than having them brought to the police station in broad daylight. We wonder how on earth we have people with questionable – to say the least – education, experience and training skyrocketed to strategic decision-making positions in both state administration or state-controlled companies. We wonder how we have so many politicians that are proven intellectual thieves, impostors still smiling on cameras and cashing-in public money public for their forged PhDs.

Still, Mr. Bode is not the only Romanian politician that seems not to understand that moral responsibility is more important for a politician than legal responsibility. Mr. Bode is just a mere figure in a long – way too long – list of Romanian politicians risen to a position of relative power that do not seem to comprehend that morality and not legality rules the act of politics. Way too many Romanian politicians cling to the judicial argument “I didn’t break any law” rather than consider the moral obligation as the main principle upon which they act within the community: “What moral value warrants me to administrate or pass laws?”. Look at Mr. Vasile Dincu, not wearing a mask during a visit to the Falticeni hospital, look at Mr. Orban who threw a mini birthday party in the Prime Minister’s office, while the the State of Emergency prohibited it, or Gabriel Oprea who was lashing his ministerial escort to beam him through Bucharest’s infernal traffic, look at Razvan Cuc, allegedly asking Tarom CEO to delay flights that carried Members of Parliament. Look at Steluta Cataniciu who defied the law and stayed as MP despite being convicted for breaching the law. Look at Liviu Dragnea who from his position as the leader of the Chamber of Deputies tried to bend the law in his favor until the very day he was incarcerated.

How is this possible? Is it possible because we accepted to talk politics in terms of legality rather than morality. One should bear in mind that laws are nothing more than moral principles turned into rules of coexistence. This is the reason why the morality of those writing the rules, people who enforce the rules and those who judge the breaching of the law should be beyond any doubt.

Otherwise we have a situation in which no piece of legislation, no rule of social coexistence, no law that protects the honest citizen is without a tiny hidden paragraph that would allow the said rule to be bent and turned upside-down and inside out for the benefit of those who think that they are beyond and above the law.

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