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