Winston Churchill is noted for paraphrasing this quote, "Those that fail to learn from history, are doomed to repeat it." Yet, our American government continues to fall down that steep rabbit hole. Unfortunately, political corruption had been around for thousands of years and was the notable reason for the most powerful empire to fall -- Rome. This use of power by a government official for illegitimate private gain comes in a variety of forms, bribery, extortion, nepotism, patronage, and embezzlement to name a few. Current headlines are plagued by corrupted officials getting caught, like the former Mayor of Detroit, Kwame M. Kilpatrick. Citizens look for government to hinder and even prevent these illegal activities, but soon our high court might give it the green light.
In the upcoming months, the Supreme Court will make a decision on McCutcheon vs Federal Election Commission (FEC) essentially legalizing corruption. The 1 percent or about 450 wealthy Americans can buy a politician to do their bidding, and kick the little guy otherwise known as the 99 percent to the curb. How can this be in the land of the free, home of the brave, a country built on the foundation of democracy happen? Well, this wealthy businessman McCutcheon was aggravated that he couldn't dig into his pockets far enough to influence his representatives. So he set out to challenge the FEC stating this limits his free speech.
Does this remind you of anything? Watergate maybe? The 1972 scandal provocated the establishment of the FEC and put contribution limits for individuals and disclosure requirements for federal candidates. It does sound like we're repeating history, and the future does not look bright.
Many Americans feel that they can do nothing or that corruption is part of the norm for politics, but what impact does it do to the fabric of our communities? One filmmaker is attempting to provide a visual depiction of what political corruption does to the family unit and how it spreads to our own backyards.
"While we often only read headlines about such-and-such public official bribing or gaming the system, it quickly gets lost in the shuffle of the next day's crisis. Or worse, we come to forgive the official because there seemingly aren't other options," says Actress Terra Wellington, producer and writer of the upcoming short film McCullough. "Corruption is a slow seeping virus. Once it gets into the system, people who would otherwise be honest turn to dishonesty as a way to survive. I don't think we want the U.S. to go this way, but it is happening as a subtle bubbling over."
Wellington continues "Honesty and transparency are cornerstones of thriving societies. The McCutcheon case is not about transparency and is, instead, an example of encouraging the political system to shut out the general public and, thereby, create an environment ripe for corruption and bribery."
The McCullough short film is in the works and will play out on screen how a citizen can buy a president. Let's just hope this stays fiction and not reality.