Wednesday, August 06, 2014

The Value of Political Corruption

Thomas B. Edsall, NYT
AUG. 5, 2014

Americans have been pretty cynical about politics since at least Vietnam and Watergate. And key reforms that conservatives sought for decades and finally achieved have done nothing to quiet public distrust of the political class.

In fact, two of these reforms — the ban on congressional earmarks and a series of court rulings that radically deregulated campaign-finance law – have intensified the public’s hostility to both politicians and the political process.

From 2006 to 2013, the percentage of Americans convinced that corruption was “widespread throughout the government in this country” grew from 59 to 79 percent, according to Gallup. In other words, we were cynical already, but now we’re in overdrive.

Over the period from 1964 to 2012, the percentage of voters who said that government was “run by a few big interests looking out for themselves” more than doubled, from 29 to 79 percent, while the share of the electorate that believed government was run for the benefit of all the people” fell from 64 to 19 percent, according to American National Election Studies and data supplied to me by Alan Abramowitz, a political scientist at Emory.

(More here.)


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