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Consider this statement:

Successful politicians are motivated more by practical considerations than by moral values.
Write a unified essay in which you perform the following tasks. Explain what you think the above
statement means. Describe a specific situation in which successful politicians might be motivated
more by moral values than by practical considerations. Discuss what you think determines whether
successful politicians are motivated more by practical concerns or by moral values.
Sample Essay #1
The above statement means that rational considerations motivate effective politicians
more than moral values. Therefore, if one seeks political success, he or she should seek
motivation from practical considerations rather than values or ethics.
In the event of a local disaster, such as a tornado or hurricane, that leaves many people
homeless and lacking food and water, a successful politican might be motivated more by
moral values than by practical considerations. For instance, he or she may recommend
allotting money from the highway fund, which is a practical project, to that of charities
helping those victims of the natural disasters. Following such a moral course of action
would likely lead to increased support from the public as a whole. The community most
likely desired wider highways, but would rather see its fellow people recovering from
such a catastrophic event. Situations regarding human welfare should be governed by a
strict moral code. However, decisions regarding strictly logistics, should be driven by
practical considerations that benefit the majority of people. For instance, the decision
to build a new highway or a new park should be examined with practical considerations
concerning the necessary monetary sources, probable future benefit, and current state
of affairs within the specific locale.
Score = 2
Explanation of score:
The writer understands the rhetorical assignment, but does not provide a clear, well-developed
response. For example, the task of explaining what the prompt statement means is addressed, but with
only two repetitive, undeveloped sentences. What does this writer mean by political success or
rational considerations? The first paragraph introduces these potentially relevant ideas, but makes
no attempt to define or discuss them.
In addressing the second task, the writer provides a specific hypothetical example involving a highway
project and a natural disaster. While this discussion is an improvement over the essays treatment of
task 1, it still falls far short of adequacy. The writer provides no context for the illustration and no
transitional discussion that would help make clear its relationship to the other parts of the essay.
Neither does the writer attempt to link the specific example to general ideas that would apply more

broadly to the question of political motivations. Finally, the writer has not thought through this
example very thoroughly. After all, what could be more practical than providing assistance to people
devastated by a natural disaster?
The essay does arrive at a means for determining the successful politicians motivations, stating that
the solution is situational: when human welfare is involved, then decisions should be based on
morals; when the issue is logistical, practical considerations take precedent. Once again, the writer
fails to provide enough discussion and explanation to make the point clear. In what way is human
welfare not also a matter of practicality? Why should logistical decisions be immune to a
politicians moral values?
Though mostly vague and general, language use is not this essays central problem. Rather, it is the
absence of fully developed ideas that keeps this essay from earning a higher score.
Sample Essay #2
In order to fully define the statement, we must distinguish between practical
considerations and moral values. The latter are most easily defined. Moral values deal
with ethical beliefs (i.e. what we believe to be right and wrong), which for many people
may rely on religious teachings. Practical considerations include the likelihood that a
politician will be re-elected based on his track record, how decisions will influence his
interactions with other politicians, and the economic incentives that come with certain
choices. If we define success as the degree of political cout a politician earns along
with the longevity of his career, then it is true that successful politicians are guided
more by practical considerations than by moral values. Since the general public tends to
be fickle, it is often more important to gain the respect of fellow politicians and big
businesses than it is to impress the people.
Yet, there are certain situations in which successful politicians are motivated more by
moral values than by practical considerations. In order for this to occur, the politician
must be of high moral character. They must have values deeply instilled within them or
be devoutly religious. This ensures that they will adhere to a specific set of beliefs as
opposed to vacillating due to the general publics opinion or pressure from fellow
politicians. Such a pattern of steady decision-making will cause the politician to appear
consistent, which will cause him to be viewed favorably by a certain sect of the
population and the government. Such consistency will therefore ultimately result in
success. Let us suppose that Government Jones is deeply against abortion. Throughout
the enirely of his career, he has defended and rallied for government policies that
prohibit abortion. When the upcoming election approaches, he is the preferred
candidate because his contingency is impressed by his adherence to beliefs. They
congratulate him on his firm value system. They are impressed because he does not
vacillate from one opinion to another. In this way, he becomes the preferred candidate

and is re-elected. Moral values can therefore be considered a motivating factor when
they result in consistency and the subsequent respect it garners.
Whether successful politicians are motivated more by practical concerns or moral
values is dependent on a number of factors. These factors include how popular they are
within their zones of leadership. More popular leaders can afford to adhere to moral
values while least popular ones need to pay more attention to public opinion. A second
concern involves how respected they are by fellow politicians. If they are highly
regarded, they may be able to make decisions based more on personal beliefs than
which decision will garner more respect. The last factor is entirely personal. Ones
character is the largest determinant of what decision they will make. If they are out to
achieve success and only success, they will most probably adhere to practical
considerations. If they are of high moral character and consider this an important
personal characteristic, they will be more motivated by moral values.
Score = 4
Explanation of score:
This response exhibits adequate clarity, development, and language control. In contrast to the essay
that earns a score of 2, this one explains precisely what it means by the key terms it analyzes:
practical considerations, moral values, and success. This definition of terms gives clarity and
focus to the writers address of the first task. The task 2 discussion of a counter situation is likewise
clear, focused, and developed. The example of a politician earning respect by sticking to his beliefs
nicely illustrates the central point.
The final paragraph draws some general conclusions from the discussion that went before, giving the
essay a sense of unity, direction and closure. The writers conclusions are clearly expressed and are
focused on the central question posed by the prompt. However, the writer does not provide the kind of
sustained discussion of complex ideas that is needed for a score of 5 or 6. Nevertheless, this response
to the writing assignment, though simple, is entirely adequate.
The writing here is generally clear, but some minor flaws detract from the overall quality of the effort.
Occasional confused word choices (such as contingency when the writer probably means
constituency) are one indication of how this essay falls short of the precise, effective use of
language found in most responses that earn a higher score.
Sample Essay #3
The statement that successful politicians are motivated more by practical
considerations than by moral values refers to politicians acting out of concern for what
will advance her or him in their careers, regardless of moral scruples and injury to the
politicians constituency. The statement presents politicians as primarily driven by the
goals of getting votes, getting elected, making money, and staying elected by whatever

means necessary. The opposite view would be a poitician motivated by moral values and
acting in the best interests of the public, the world, and the earth. A politician
motivated more by moral values than by practical concerns would tend to make decisions
that might not always bring them votes and money, but would be the right, moral, and
ethical thing to do.
A specific situation in which the successful politician might be more motivated by moral
values than by practical considerations is one in which the politicians religious views
direct her toward political goals that line up with the mandates of her faith. An
example might be a senator who votes against going to war on grounds that her religious
beliefs counsel against it. She might risk the scorn of collegues, the press, and
ultimately her own constituents if the desired war is popular and advantageous.
However, a politician acting on the advice and urging of her faith is not necessarily
entirely motivated by moral values alone. It is difficult to separate the moral and
practical when the politicians constituency includes followers of the same beliefs as
the politician. In such a case, a decision seemingly made on strictly moral grounds at the
same time serves to advance the politicians practical goals of pleasing her constituents
and ensuring re-election. Voting against the war, in this case, might be both a moral act
and a politically calculated act at the same time.
The difficulty of answering this question is apparent, for example, when a country goes
to war to overthrow a tyrant (a moral act), but also stands to gain economic and political
(i.e. practical) benefits. Likewise, moral versus practical or self-interested motivations
are not easily distinguished when a politician with a gay son or daughter votes to uphold
the rights of gay people to marry.
A successful politician, one who both stays in office and accomplishes good things for
his constituens, is aware that many decisions have both a practical and ethical
dimension. A politician with strong religious moral values might rationalize voting against
those values from time to time by telling himself that compromise is part of politics,
and that, in the long run, he serves his values and his constituents best by doing what
he must to stay in office. Its the rare politician who is willing to sacrifice his career by
stubbornly rejecting the will or interests of his constituents in the name of his own
moral integrity. And in any case, few circumstances are so clear-cut as to say a
politician isnt motivated by both moral and practical considerations at the same time.
Score = 6

Explanation of score:
Unlike the 4 essay that explains the prompt statement by defining its terms, this 6 explains the prompt
by uncovering a central tension at its heart: does success in politics depend on doing whatever is
needed to stay in office, or does it rely on following a set of moral beliefs and doing the right thing,
regardless of the practical costs? In recognizing so acutely the conflict inherent in the prompt, the
writer begins opening up possibilities for a complex discussion.
And, indeed, what follows task 1 is a sustained, complex discussion, centered on the idea that political
motivations are inevitably impure, to some extent. This writer makes the case that, in politics,
practical implications tend to accompany, and to compromise, a politicians claims of purely moral
motivation. She gives some specific examples by way of developing the point voting against a
popular war, voting for gay marriage. The writer doesnt simplistically condemn this ambiguity, but
rather depicts it as a complicated reality in the life of a successful politician.
The essays ideas are clearly expressed and substantially developed. They follow logically from one to
the next, in such a way that the essay never lapses in unity, focus or coherence. Subtle ideas are
dependent on the deft use of language, as this sentence demonstrates: A politician with strong
religious moral values might rationalize voting against those values from time to time by telling
himself that compromise is part of politics, and that, in the long run, he serves his values and his
constituents best by doing what he must to stay in office. Overall, superior writing and fullydeveloped, complex ideas earn this essay its 6.

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