CHARACTER COUNTS

To function well and to set an example, government has to be informed by Integrity. Officials must be honest, avoid even the conflict of interest, and follow the rule of law.

Many of us aspire to live a life brimming with honor, virtue and integrity, like “Honest Abe,” who said:

“I am not bound to win, I am bound to be true.”

And then there is the “Oracle of Omaha,” Warren Buffett, who keenly observed,

“...  [I]n looking for people to hire, you look for three qualities: integrity, intelligence, and energy. And if you don't have the first, the other two will kill you."

Make Integrity Great Again seeks to bring back integrity as a basic tenet of a democratic republic. 

 
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MIGA Mission

Make Integrity Great Again is an organization that seeks to restore integrity by exposing breaches of our most precious values and promoting legislative and cultural solutions – and shine a light on people and organizations displaying and upholding integrity. All of us can be a unifying force for good, and MIGA’s goal is to bring like-minded forces and organizations together in not a non-partisan way, but an anti-partisan way. Together.

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Integrity is central

"Courage is the enforcing virtue, the one that makes possible all the other virtues common to exceptional leaders: honesty, integrity, confidence, compassion and humility." —Sen. John S. McCain

 

STORIES OF INTEGRITY

Integrity means speaking up - even if it’s off the record

 

Throughout Make Integrity Great Again, stories of people doing the right thing abound. Some say they live their lives or operate with integrity.

MIGA celebrates those examples, and calls out bad apples.

In his Pulitzer Prize-winning book All the President's Men, investigative journalist and co-author Bob Woodward describes William Mark Felt, his key whistle-blower source nicknamed “Deep Throat,” as a “source in the Executive Branch who had access to information at the Committee to Re-elect the President, Richard Nixon's 1972 campaign organization, as well as at the White House.”

But Felt ended up historically being much more than a source, he spoke up when other would not and forced a sitting president to resign or be impeached. He did not stand idly by as the June 17, 1972, break-in occurred – and democracy violated – at the Watergate Hotel. He knew it was wrong and secretly passed information to Woodward throughout the investigation – at great personal peril.

The fact that he maintained his anonymity throughout the process – and several decades later – shows that he wasn’t seeking the spotlight. We call that heroic. He did finally grant an exclusive interview to Vanity Fair in 2005 at age 91.

As a precursor to Felt’s actions, Daniel Ellsberg, an employee of the State Department, in 1971 leaked the Pentagon Papers, a secret cache of documents outlining the United States’ involvement in the Vietnam War. President Nixon’s administration sought the U.S. Supreme Court’s help to prevent publication, but the request was denied.

These brave figures – including others like Frank Serpico, who fought corruption in the New York Police Department; Karen Silkwood, who fought the safety of a nuclear installation; Enron Corp. executive turned whistleblower Sherron Watkins; and Jeffrey Wigand, a former tobacco executive who told “60 Minutes” about the addictive properties secretly being introduced to cigarettes – remind us that truth always wins out. And you can be sure that we will continue to fight to Make Integrity Great Again.

 Mark Felt maintained his anonymity for decades after the fall of Richard Nixon, proof that he wasn’t seeking the spotlight, but trying to do the right thing.

Mark Felt maintained his anonymity for decades after the fall of Richard Nixon, proof that he wasn’t seeking the spotlight, but trying to do the right thing.

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“You can be political opponents and still work together for someting more important than your own political future.”

- George H.W. Bush, 41st President of the United States, 1924-2018

Oprah Winfrey tells grads to 'do the right thing, especially when nobody's looking'

 

In her address to the graduating students of the University of Southern California's Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism this summer, talk show icon Oprah Winfrey delivered an epic speech, stressing the importance of being honest and acting with integrity.

“If you could just capture the humanity of the people and the stories that you're telling, you can get that much closer to your own humanity and you can confront your bias and you can build your credibility and hone your instincts and compound your compassion,” she said. “You can use your gifts – that's what you're here to do – to illuminate the darkness in our world.”

However, much of the advice she dispensed was more general and could be applied to anybody:

• Be the truth. Winfrey asked her audience to “make the choice every single day to exemplify honesty.” “The truth exonerates and it convicts. It disinfects and it galvanizes. The truth has always been and will always be our shield against corruption, our shield against greed and despair. The truth is our saving grace. Be the truth. Be. The. Truth.”

• Stay hopeful. “There's gun violence and climate change and systemic racism. Economic inequality, media bias. The homeless need opportunity, the addicted need treatment, the Dreamers need protection, the prison system needs reforming, the LGBTQ community needs acceptance, the social safety net needs saving and the misogyny needs to stop,” Winfrey said. “You have to declare war on one of our most dangerous enemies and that's cynicism. It will lower your standards, it'll choke your empathy and sooner than later, cynicism shatters your faith. When you hear yourself saying, 'It doesn't matter what one person says, oh well. So what? It's not gonna make any difference what I do, who cares?' When you hear yourself saying that, know that you're on a collision course for our culture... The question is: What are you willing to stand for?”

• Be good to everyone. “You have no idea what your legacy will be because your legacy is every life you touch,” Winfrey said, citing the advise of her idol Maya Angelou. “Pick a problem, any problem, and do something about it. Because to somebody who's hurting, something is everything.”

• Vote. Winfrey said to “pay attention to what the people who claim to represent you are doing and saying in your name and on your behalf.”

• Live responsibly. “Eat a good breakfast. It really pays off. Pay your bills on time. Recycle. Make your bed. Aim high. Say thank you to people and actually really mean it. Ask for help when you need it and put your phone away at the dinner table. Just sit on it!” she said. “Know what you tweet and post and Instagram today might be asked about in a job interview tomorrow or 20 years from tomorrow.”

• Be kind. Winfrey stressed the importance of compassion. "Be nice to little kids, be nice to your elders, be nice to animals and know that it's better to be interested than interesting,” she said.

• Splurge on the right things. Winfrey says a good mattress and shoes will save an aching back later.

• Be upstanding. “Don't ever confuse what is legal with what is moral because they are entirely different animals. You see, in a court of law there are loopholes and technicalities and bargains to be struck, but in life, you're either principled or you're not,” she said. “So do the right thing, especially when nobody's looking.”

• Your job is what you do, not who you are. “There will be some days that you just might be bored. Other days, you may not feel like going to work at all. Go anyway,” she said. “Remember that your job is not who you are, it's just what you're doing on the way to who you will become.”

• Be yourself. Winfrey promises that this last bit of advice “will save you,” she said. “Stop comparing yourself to other people.”

 Longtime talk show host and philanthropist Oprah Winfrey celebrates in May with graduates at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. She stressed truth and integrity during her commencement speech.

Longtime talk show host and philanthropist Oprah Winfrey celebrates in May with graduates at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. She stressed truth and integrity during her commencement speech.