For a long time, a growing number of Americans have believed that the political establishment in Washington, D.C. is rife with political corruption. Only rarely have the details about political corruption become public even though D.C. insiders, including the top media executives, have known all about them. Now the media, especially cable news, are full of reports exposing cases of corruption. Figures like right-wing justice Clarence Thomas are exposed for receiving regular subsidies for more than 20 years from right-wing Texas real estate tycoon Harlan Crow, allowing him to travel the world in luxury and pay for school for his relatives. Likewise, it’s been proven that members of the Trump family have used their political positions to solicit lucrative investments from international banks and foreign governments. And members of the Biden family are under increasing scrutiny for their overseas financial dealings. No one can doubt that these transactions only take place because they enhance the donor’s financial interests and political influence.
Payoffs to politicians, either directly or in the form of campaign contributions, have a long history in the U.S. Well-connected politicians and businesspeople move back and forth between important government positions and appointments to boards of directorships of major companies. Arms company executives become assistant secretaries of defense. Retired Generals join the Lockheed board. Members of Congress voted out of office become lobbyists. This “revolving door” makes former government officials lots of money, while guaranteeing the 1% the inside political connections and influence they need to shape government to meet their needs. Supreme Court Justice accepting lavish gifts from billionaire patrons is simply another part of this totally normal legal corruption.
This intimate connection between big money and political power is embedded in the deepest levels of the US system. “Money is the mother’s milk of politics,” said one-time California Democratic Party Boss, Jesse Unrah. Elections don’t and can’t really change this.
But the increasing exposure of these scandals indicates a growing division within the 1% over how to control increasing popular anger over the state of the country. Exposing each side’s dirty laundry can be a powerful weapon by which all factions of the political establishment rally their political bases in the upcoming Presidential election.
More important, drawing public attention to supposedly individual cases of seemingly disconnected political scandals is a way to divert attention away from the real causes of the grim social crisis impacting all our lives and discrediting the system we live under. No faction of the ruling capitalist establishment offers a way for working class people to make a decent living, find affordable housing for their families, benefit from good education or even have good health care. All the rival figures of the political establishment can do is intensify tactics to divide the population and especially working people against each other. All the while they get wealthy while keeping this corrupt system going.
To eliminate a corrupt political system that serves only the rich it will be necessary to do away with the capitalist system itself. The multiple crises of human impoverishment, of more and bigger wars, of ecological catastrophe will only intensify until we do.