Add to that our complicated relationship with individual success, and you’ve got five factors that contribute to corruption. On the one hand, we expect our leaders to live as role models with respect for our norms and values. On the other hand, we like to see winners and domination. “Success at any cost” hasn’t quite lost its covert appeal. This also explains why many of us have an ambivalent relationship to the rule of law. Many crimes – tax evasion, insurance fraud, and so on – are regarded almost as gentlemanly transgressions. Corrupt politicians are probably only mirroring the tendencies for corruption within each of us. Yet we also struggle to admit our own wrongdoings – and react by raising the bar for our public officials even higher, and by projecting our own aspirations onto them. “They are our leaders,” we like to say, “they must act morally.” And when politicians fail to meet those standards, we relish the fact that our pessimistic world view has been confirmed, and that we need not worry about committing a bit of fraud ourselves.
Moreover, another way to combat the political corruption phenomenon is to build new political parties that are genuine reform-seekers, with clear and honest politicians (Quimpo 2007, 289). As Quimpo (2007) argues, in the Philippines’s trapo parties, not everyone is corrupt. Thus, reform-seeker politicians have the choice to consider getting out of these “sick” environment and actively work in truly democratic parties or building new political parties (Quimpo 2007, 290). Another available solution, more or less arguable, seems to be that state funding of political parties looks like the best option to maintain their proper independence and professionalism (Mietzner 2007, 241).
Political corruption shouldn’t be a phrase reserved for bribes or campaign finance issues. The left might be facing an internal Sanders-Clinton divide, but both sides should agree that voter suppression is a critical problem that must be solved if the left wants to have the opportunity to win and actually improve peoples’ lives. The Sanders left has taken up the banner against political corruption, and framing the voter suppression issue in this way could help bring more support from youth and independents. Fighting a corrupt Republican Party that wants to steal political power from the most marginalized should be something that can unite the left. And when it comes to voter suppression, minorities need all the help they can get.