A US corruption poll just released this morning reveals that more than half of Americans believe the country has become more corrupt in the last year. Last year’s poll results already revealed a high level of perceived corruption among Americans, so this year’s gains are on top of that.
US corruption poll says corruption on the rise
Transparency International released the results of its US corruption poll this morning. Polltakers asked respondents if they think some, most or all of those belonging to nine important groups are corrupt. The organization’s definition of corruption is “abuse of entrusted power for private gains.” Some of the issues mentioned in the report were the great influence wealthy citizens have over the government, “pay to play” politics, and the “revolving doors” between elected office and for-profit companies.
According to the results of this year’s US corruption poll, the White House, which includes the president and other officials in his office, is now widely regarded as the nation’s most corrupt institution. Last year, the White House was second only to Congress as far as perceived levels corruption; the two have swapped places this year. Local governments fared better than federal officials, according to Transparency International.
The police force is seen as very corrupt among black Americans, with nearly one-third saying that police are corrupt, versus one-fifth of the general population. Of the nine groups respondents were polled about, judges were perceived as being the least corrupt.
The US corruption poll also found that 44% of Americans now believe corruption is widespread in the White House, while only 36% believed this last year. Fifty-eight percent say that corruption has worsened over the last 12 months, while only 34% said this in January—after Trump was elected but before he took office.
Nearly 70% Americans say the government has failed in its fight against corruption, verses about 50% last year.
Speaking out against corruption
The US corruption poll also included questions about ways to speak out against corruption, and about 75% of Americans do believe that they can make a difference in this year. However, the method that’s seen as the best option has changed.
According to Transparency International, 34% of Americans thought the ballot box was the best strategy to make a difference in the fight against corruption, but that fell to 28% this year. One-fifth of respondents said reporting it is the most effective strategy to fight it. Unfortunately, the US corruption poll also revealed that 55% say the biggest reason not to report it is fear of retaliation, while 31% said this a year ago. Additionally, 16% said they believe the biggest reason people don’t report corruption is because they don’t believe anything will be done about it.
Americans don’t trust the government
For many, the results of this US corruption poll might not be surprising, and Transparency International said that Washington has a lot of work to do if it wants to win back Americans’ trust. The organization recommended that officials become truly transparent on political spending, including information provided online in real time. It also called for public companies to reveal their political spending.
Other suggestions to gain back Americans’ trust include halting “the unchecked exchange of personnel among corporations, lobbyists and our elected and high-level government officials” and the use of anonymous shell corporations. The organization also called for protection of whistleblowers, which brings to mind Edward Snowden.