Throughout history, Republican politicos/administrations have been notoriously corrupt. That’s not to say Democrats are clean, there are just fewer of them found guilty of crimes committed while on the public payroll. This is especially true in the past decade, when they could likely populate a small prison with convicted conservative officials and politicians. But it’s not their fault. The separation of powers, the checks and balances imposed by a three-branch government established to control such abuses had been systematically dismantled since Ronald Reagan began his crusade to reduce big government’s role in our daily lives. Oh, wait..Reagan’s like the God-Head–or at least part of the Republican Trinity, even though I’ve read he wasn’t all that religious. As if Reagan’s damage wasn’t bad enough, the GOP’s subsequently grandstanding “Contract on America” (sic), took all eyes off the ball. While Democrats self-flagellated, incentives for impropriety grew as government oversight became little more than a historic footnote.
Democrats are far from immune. Power and status can bring down anyone who succumbs to its seduction. It’s just that fewer Dems seem to, except for Bill Clinton, who lived by his own standard, directed by strict definitions that neatly rationalized certain compartmentalized indiscretions. Subjective reality is part and parcel of corruption. All humans–even leaders, have weaknesses, if not in character, perhaps a problematic proclivity, bad habit or unpopular “hobby”.
But from Harding to McKinley, from Nixon to Bush, few influence peddlers ever met a Republican they couldn’t buy, bribe or blackmail.
I’d love to see a comprehensive comparison of convictions and scandals by administration. I’m not enough of a historian to compile one but think it would be interesting to see which presidents presided over the dirtiest administrations and how they stack up both in number and severity. In the meantime, there’s this.
My hope is that Obama’s inauguration will usher in a new era of transparency, accountability and if possible, also witness a few high-profile convictions for crimes committed against our nation and its Constitution during the past 8 years. We need to admit who we are, what we’ve become, restore the rule of law and pay for our greed, pride and brutality.
We have a chance for redemption in the eyes of the world. We need to round up some of the felons that, feeling above the law–by virtue of placing themselves beyond it–have ransomed our nation’s reputation to line the pockets of our richest citizens, making us more vulnerable to forces beyond our borders. We can reconstitute the oversight that’s been stripped from our current “Democracy Lyte” and hold responsible all those who committed GOP-sanctioned illegal acts. But with our infrastructure failing, the economy in the basement, with job losses reaching staggering numbers, two wars and global unrest, will anyone in Congress have time to actually conduct the oversight needed to restore our injured Constitution to a healthy state?
As much as I would like to see a perp walk led by Karl Rove and Dick Cheney, we may have to settle on saving, then restoring to health our now fractured nation. On the right, I’ll bet they’re counting on it.