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The Court of Fools: American Corruption
The world is rife with corrupt government officials. From the political forces that led to the American Revolution, to the greedy aristocrats of the Affair of the Poisons, corruption has played a terrifying powerful force in shaping our world politics. It'd gotten to the point where corruption is an everyday fear in our lives. And despite politicians trying to calm the public's fears, it would seem that these fears are founded.
So just who is corrupt in Washington? And why are officials serving their own interests, rather than the people who swore them it? Most importantly, what are we doing to stop this corruption?
So Who is Corrupt?
Corruption is a fear that has existed in the government for centuries. As such, when someone accuses a politician, a person who has incredible power and influence, of corruption, it's almost sure to catch the attention of someone. And though America is a relatively young country, corruption runs deep, all the way to the top. For example:
- William M. "Boss" Tweed was a promising politician that managed to swindle money from New Yorkers through favoritism, bribery, and kickbacks. After a series of investigations, he was sued for $6 million from New York, and was tried and sentenced to prison. Its likely that he stole more money than that, but died in jail at the age of 55, so we'll never know.
- Budd Dwyer was a Republican politician from Pennsylvania who was a member of the House of Congress. In 1987, Dwyer was accused of taking approximately $300,000 in exchange for a $4 million contract from a computer company. There were other allegations of bribery and mail fraud. He committed suicide at a press conference.
- Richard Nixon has made history, not just as the first American president to ever resign, but also as a corrupted official. During the Watergate scandal, a couple of suspicious individuals were arrested outside of the Democratic National Committee. After an investigation, it was found that these men had wiretapped the phones of the Democrats. What's more incriminating is the fact that Nixon had employed them so that he'd have an unfair advantage for his reelection campaign. Nixon tried covering up his crime, but he was eventually found out. While in the process of being impeached, he resigned later on to save face which, unfortunately, did not work.
- Former Secretary of State and Presidential Nominee Hilary Clinton was charged with the deaths of a U.S ambassador and three other Americans during the terrorist attacks at Benghazi. She found herself in hot water again after it was discovered that she had been using a private email server that confidential information. Despite an FBI investigation saying that they hadn't found anything, in the end it affected her enough to not win the Presidential seat. Even more devastating was the news that, in her own 2008 campaign, when a woman reported that an advisor had been sexually harassing her, the woman was reassigned, and the man's pay had been docked. Other than that, there was nothing else she did to protect her. So much for women's rights.
- United States President Donald Trump is as corrupt as you can get. From the Russian probes to allegations of sexual harassment to his horrific quotes on immigration and obsession with petty fights, Donald Trump was an outsider who was elected President on the assumption that he wouldn't fall prey to political corruption. That, unfortunately, didn't prove to be the case. Not only did Congress had to block their President from assisting the Russians, but as it turns out, he himself admitted and then attempted to defend his decision to allow the Russians to help. His firing of FBI director James Comey also raised eyebrows. What's more, despite all his talk of making America Great again, he disregards international allies, and has been known to hinder freedom rather than help it.
Why is there Corruption?
Like it or not, corruption has existed as an essential part of human history. For example, President Franklin D. Roosevelt perpetuated the paranoia of Japanese Americans at the time, and sentenced them to concentration camps during World War II. Andrew Jackson killed thousands of Native Americans during the Trail of Tears to create land for settlers. King Louis XIV turned a blind eye to all the suffering of his people, all the while entertaining his own aristocracies in the decadent Versailles Palace. So why? Why is there so much corruption, especially in politics?
Because human greed and guilt exist. Many of these officials commit acts because they believe they can get away with, acts that benefit themselves only. Well, them and their co-conspirators. Whether it be doing whatever it takes to win, like Donald Trump or Richard Nixon, or endeavoring to ignore previous, often serious mistakes, like past monarchies, corruption takes the form our greatest fears, and enhances it. It destroys us, and corrodes our morality until nothing human is left. Through corruption, we're reduced to little more than toddlers who are afraid of getting in trouble, of losing all of our material things without even thinking of the people we hurt. What's even worse is that the fear we feel can turn into anything: anger, self-loathing, even entitlement. It's the same kind of thinking that has promoted the ideas that it's alright to berate other based on the color of their skin, or threaten people simply because they don't share your beliefs.
What We're Doing About It
Despite the fact that American society fears corruption, much of the public has already accepted it as apart of politics. There's an old saying that we Americans tend to take to heart, that "Money makes the world go 'round." And in this case, it's true.
We run on a society in which we fight for wealth, money, and resources. Tax cuts that benefit the rich, rather than the poor; doctors turning away government sponsored insurance because it doesn't pay much; people murdering others, whether it be for a couple of cents or an entire fortune; turning us against other immigrants because politicians keep telling us that they're taking our jobs and killing our loved ones; it's these examples that illustrate just how "moral" our country really is. So of course, there's no wonder why American politics is a breeding ground for corruption.
In an article published by Huffington Post, there have been many examples in U.S History, examples that have triggered incidents such as the 2008 Great Recession. Despite politicians calling out the corruption in Wall Street, there are others who have been enticed by the same promises. Some have even given into the lure of money, and have used it for their own purposes. This in turn, has led to innocent people losing their retirement plans, their pensions, and their life savings.
However, there are some programs that have been used to try to stop corruption. The American Anti-Corruption Act, created in 2011, was used to limit the influence that money has on American politics. It covers there areas; stopping bribery, increasing transparency, and giving citizens a voice by funding elections personally. This, of course, has led to positive influences within the American political system. What's more, higher educational institutes such as Harvard University have begun programs that are designed to fight back against corruption.
Of course, we've all known that, to some extent, America is, in and of itself, a corrupt country. From the politicians that have brought us sexual harassment stories, political abuse, and great recessions that have costed millions their savings, to high officials who try to bury their past mistakes and hope they just go away, there's no doubt that corruption is a problem in our system. Despite our acceptance of it, we still try to portray the other as being more corrupt than we are.
Even so, we have to come together to solve this issue. Money shouldn't have to be the root of all evil. After all, we've done some great things with money. Even so, it continues to be the center of our struggles, a force that causes us to betray even our truest beliefs. It's this reason why both the public have to be informed of issues, to be educated, and to support politicians who aren't taking bribes from big organizations, or even support a businessman who's made it very clear that he's only in it for himself. We have to open our eyes, and stop believing blindly in someone who promises us things. We have to be skeptical, and ask questions that no one else would ask. Because after all, that's what makes America such a good place to live in to begin with.