The U.S.’s Fourth Branch of Government: Corruption

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Adam Zebzda, Reporter

The high rates of voter ignorance evident during election cycles have been deemed troublesome when it comes to preserving democracy; however, the high rates of corruption from those we elect to represent us have rarely been deemed a threat. 

At the end of the day, officials traditionally listen to what voters want based on their net worth, especially on the federal level. Our democracy is based on the mirage that representatives have a genuine interest in an individual’s concerns, which influences policy decisions.  

A study, “Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups, and Average Citizens” by Northwestern University Professor Benjamin Page and Princeton Professor Martin Gilens, found “the preferences of the average American appear to have only a minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy,” after examining 1,779 policy issues.

If you feel that your opinion was ignored when it came to issues affecting you, it was. However, there is an exception: your opinion is worshipped if you’re what’s considered the economic elite.

In our federal republic, ruled under a representative democracy, corruption is legal, widespread and something we have come to somehow accept.

Why? Because in America, politics is based on money and not constituency. Political influence is bought and sold, behaving more like the stock market than being of, by, and for the people like Abraham Lincoln envisioned. 

Unless you have the resources to hire a lobbyist group or establish a political action committee, your opinion will not be heard or considered regardless of the party representing your community. 

Why else would Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC) of District 5 favor the wealthy 95% of the time, evidenced by her voting record, while maintaining her political monopoly on NC5, according to “Politics that Work”?

Or why would Democratic Winston-Salem Mayor Allen Joines remain the head of the Winston-Salem Alliance, an organization of the city’s “business community” making over $200,000 per year, according to the organization’s 2018 IRS 990 Form. 

Short answer: those groups are the ones making sure they remain in power.

The only way to end political corruption? Go to the ballot box. The only way to fix a broken game is to change its players. You won’t change the system with angry tweets or partisan rants. Go to the polls, write your representatives reminding them that you, the person whose taxes pay their salary, exist and support outsider candidates who align with your values.

At the very least, ensure you vote.