Where corruption’s concerned, both sides don’t do it because both sides can’t. They don’t have the means.
Put aside political labels for a second. Ideology may inspire corruption but without the money and power to realize those inspirations, ideology is a nice car without an engine. Those with money and power have the tools required to corrupt other people. Those with zero money and zero power have literally no way to corrupt anyone. The powerless and the poor are condemned to be powerless and poor forever because they’re powerless and poor. The powerless and the poor aren’t standing in their own way. Their way is being blocked by the powerful and the rich.
That is how corruption begins: someone powerful or rich – usually both – aspires to stay that way even when they might not deserve to. When they use their power and money to maintain that power, they’ve defined corruption. And, most importantly, they’ve broken the law. Now, here’s where things get funky – and that’s by design. Justice works swiftly for most in America and barely at all for a select few. The rule of law assumes equal enforcement will happen but the rule of law can’t enforce or police itself. Humans have to do that – fallible humans. I bet if the rule of law could assume human form for a day, it would spend that whole day tsk-tsking America for screwing up the rule of law so badly.
The rule of law begins to break down the instant we stop applying it equally. It’s like integrity that way. One either has all of one’s integrity or one might as well have none. Ever met anyone with, say, 90% of their integrity intact?
Right this second, one could argue that literally the entire Republican Party is integrity-free including Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzingers, the two Republicans participating in the January 6 Commission (at their political peril). I absolutely applaud what they’re doing right now – demonstrating what integrity looks like. They’re truly courageous.
But demonstrating integrity and having integrity are two different things. Up until the January 6 insurrection, Kinsinger and Cheney both voted pretty much all the time with their fellow Republicans for all things Trumpist. They didn’t care about all the obvious corruption going on all around them because Trump was delivering on an economic policy they liked. They’ve both had access to the very same information I have access to – and I’m just a hard core news consumer. They’ve both heard the rumblings I’ve heard about Trump and Russia and treason.
The only difference between us is they’ve had myriad ways to put this truth under America’s nose. They didn’t. We have to ask “why?”.
The answer isn’t hard. Money and power. In order to maintain the money and power they’ve held since the beginning – the thing conservatives want to conerve – it’s WHY they’re conservatives and not, say, progressives – conservatives have to be willing to do anything. But, what do you do when you’re a bully at heart and the thing you want isn’t what the majority of Americans want? Do you, a bully, fold your cards? Of course not! You’re a bully! You change the rules. You game the refs. You refuse to take no for an answer.
Abortion is the perfect example.
Now, let’s remember – at the start – that the entire “pro-life” movement is an utter lie to its cynical core. The religious right in America have always used the Bible as justification for every bit of their terrible behavior (slavery especially). That means, really, there are no rules. When monotheism puts the voice o’ God inside some yahoo’s head, the yahoo feels special. God doesn’t talk to just anyone, does he? Imagine how high up the food chain one must be to have God taking his calls. Most fundamentalists’ dirtiest secret? They don’t believe IN God, they believe they ARE God. Not quite the same thing.
This explains why the religious right are so determined to “rid” America of abortion – and the disobedient women who’d want such a thing for themselves. How do you shove your cynical, white, racist bait-and-switch down a diverse America’s throat? You’re not going to get them to vote for you – that’s for sure! So – first order of business – you have to negate as many votes against you as you can.
Negating votes isn’t some “normal” political action. It’s an attempt to commit a crime because you can’t get that vote with your ideas. But, once we began to grant these criminals wriggle room for their crimes – because it was too “small fry” to prosecute – we established an acceptable baseline of corruption. Keep the corruption at or below a certain level and we’ll look the other way. That’s an invitation to the corrupt to expand the corruption franchisee as far as it will expand.
Yes, it’s true: Democrats have gerrymandered voting districts to their advantage. Gerrymandering was the one tool hanging from the Democratic Party Cheating tool belt. Trouble is, you can’t gerrymander states you don’t control. To ther infinite credit, when they set out to capture America’s democratic systems, conservatives understood how vital it was to seize the architecture – to put conservatives at the heart of local government because local government becomes state government becomes federal government. This is why Republicans now have so much more power than their numbers should be giving them. They’ve never waited around to be given power, they’ve always taken it.
Corruption’s a perpetual motion machine that way.