Is There Systemic Corruption in Our Government?

by Kellye

Lawrence Lessig, founder of Rootstrikers, recently posted some videos (see links below) of U.S. senators debating whether our government has been corrupted by the influence of big money. The debate centered around whether the whole system is corrupt or just the individuals themselves.

Individual cases of corruption are easy for everyone to identify and understand. The laws that are broken are spelled out. However, what about systemic corruption? Most of the time no laws have been broken. That makes it harder for everyone to see and understand the corruption that is taking place. Many politicians don’t want to admit that it exists because it implies that they too must be corrupt since they are part of the system. That is not necessarily the case.

The debates in these videos took place several years ago but the words still hold true today. Senator John McCain was debating Senator Mitch McConnell on the floor of the Senate on the existence of systemic corruption in our government. Senator McConnell did not want to accept the concept of systemic corruption. He said that if there was systemic corruption, then there must be specific individuals causing it. Once the individual corruption was eliminated, then there could no longer be corruption. In other words, he believed that systemic corruption by itself did not exist.

The two senators were joined by others in the debate. However, the senator whose words best describe the existence of systemic corruption in our government was the late Senator Paul Wellstone of Minnesota. Click here to hear his speech.

To hear short clips of some of the debate between McCain and McConnell, click on these links in order: Video 1, Video 2, Video 3, and Video 4.

Also, to hear McConnell make a slip of the tongue about vote buying, click here .

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5 responses to “Is There Systemic Corruption in Our Government?

  1. In my opinion, anyone who doesn’t believe this entire system is corrupt isn’t paying attention. The wealthy elite have ruled this country from the beginning and the elected (read purchased) “representatives” are very thinly disguised employees of this plutocracy. Every law ever enacted in this country falls into one of two categories; 1. designed to further enrich the wealthy or 2. designed to placate the 98% poor/working class citizens to avoid societal disruptions and anarchy.
    It is the height of hypocrisy and farce to have these Senators debating whether or not they are corrupt, narcissism at its best.

  2. It’s quite clear the problem of political corruption is systemic. McConnell’s argument is self-serving at best, and delusional at worst. People aren’t born corrupt, it is learned behavior. And from the sheer number of corruption cases we’re witnessing (e.g. Chris Christie), that behavior is being learned at an alarming rate.

    We must be careful, however, not to throw the baby out with the bathwater. Democracy is the only form of government capable of empowering ordinary people and preventing more authoritarian forms of rule. Fundamental reforms are what is needed now, and we should start by getting money out of politics.

  3. Thanks for the post. I listened to Sen. Wellstone’s speech. He is correct that people are closed out of our representative democracy, in favor of those who have the funds to gain access to politicians. In an allied problem, states use egregious gerrymandering, which denies citizens fair representation.

  4. Thanks for everyone’s input! I like to see that.

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