The dark underbelly of corruption is exposed in a new book from two Illinois State University professors.
Transparency International's annual U.S. Corruption Barometer revealed a disturbing trend of growing cynicism among the American population. The watchdog group noted that Americans are expressing greater concern about wrongdoing within the U.S. government.
The release of that report coincides with the release of a new book edited by ISU professors Nancy Lind and Cara Rabe-Hemp. "Corruption, Accountability and Discretion" addresses that age-old problem of corruption and its impact on politicians, policy, and the public.
Lind noted that a discouraged public is less likely to take part in democracy.
"We found that a lot of citizens stopped coming to the polls, they were not voting and were having many criticisms about Congress and the presidency because they felt like whatever they did did not matter because the politicians were all so corrupt. Citizens just felt left out of the picture," Lind said.
The book delves into such issues as gerrymandering, vote buying and sexual harassment. A variety of scholarly fields are represented in this interdisciplinary examination of corruption and accountability.
"Corruption has been around as long as government has," said Rabe-Hemp. "There's corruption in influence. It's interesting to look at how discretion of decision-makers then leads to this idea of corruption, and then how do we increase accountability."
More power leads to more discretion, which can lead to corruption, even accidental corruption, said Lind.
"Overstepping their boundaries without really knowing that. And then realizing, 'Wait a minute, I got away with that. Perhaps it's something I can continue doing.' And then become more conscious of engaging in the behavior," she said.
"Corruption has a corrosive impact, not only on public policy, but also political stability, and the influence that citizens can have and the democratic institutes where people go to participate in government," said Rabe-Hemp. "It undermines the effectiveness of our political system, the ability to get the work done that needs to be done in our political system."
"It leaves people cynical," said Lind. "People who might run for office see the degrees of corruption in the legislative, executive or even judicial branches and they think, 'If it's all going to be corrupt, I'm not going to be able to make a difference if I go there, so I'm going instead to move into the nonprofit sector and try to work around the government, instead of through the government.'"
You can also listen to GLT's full interview with Lind and Rabe-Hemp:
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