It may be the nearing the end of the 2000s, but for the United States, things look increasingly like the 1930s. With the economy suffering the largest downturn in recent history and a rash of political corruption scandals, a strong leadership from the next administration is absolutely key to restoring the public’s faith in our leaders.
In a year highlighted by a history-making election and campaigns built on the promise of political reform, a chain of high-profile corruption scandals spoiled what many hoped would be a more ethical era for politics. In Massachusetts, two dramatic incidences of caught-on-camera bribery cases have come to light since the Nov. 4 elections. Though these cases have been highly publicized, they only scrape the surface of a troubling trend that seems to permeate American democracy from city halls to the halls of Congress.
Between the indictments of Massachusetts Sen. Dianne Wilkerson and Boston City Councilor Chuck Turner on bribery charges, the commonwealth has been the center of plenty of media attention lately. This week, Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich stole the spotlight after he was arrested for allegedly soliciting bribes for the soon-to-be-vacant Senate seat. But these are the sensational cases being brought to the public’s attention.
Much more concerning is the litany of less-publicized cases of corruption occurring nationwide. These more-accepted acts of corruption include corporate donations to political causes and licensed lobbyists plying their trade from Beacon Hill to Capitol Hill.
These cases are obviously much harder to prevent and even harder to detect. The FBI deserves credit for unmasking sensational cases of blatant graft. But to truly clean up American politics, voters themselves must push for stronger laws restricting campaign contributions and businesses’ influence on lawmaking.