The suffocating battle to ending a culture of corruption

From left, New Jersey Senator Robert Menendez, Supreme Court Associate Justice Clarence Thomas, and New York Representative George Santos

The FilAm Editorial

There used to be a time when a whiff of scandal was enough to drive an official out of public life.

It was called ‘palabra de honor’ in the Philippines and ‘fuhai,’ meaning corruption, in Japan.  That sense of shame which would prompt an official to step down because honor demands a deep sense of obligation if you did something wrong.

That’s no longer the case. At least not in America, judging from recent circumstances. These days, there is an almost maniacal desire to hang onto a position at all costs.

How else can you explain New York Rep. George Santos, who lied about his career, was charged with more than a dozen counts of fraud and is running for reelection in 2024?

And then you have gold-bar loving New Jersey Senator Robert Menendez, who faces bribery accusations involving a foreign government. You’d think after just beating the rap the first time he faced accusations by Federal authorities, he would learn to keep his nose clean. If anything, he doubled down on getting illegally rich.

There is also Supreme Court Associate Justice Clarence Thomas, who has shown particular cluelessness in accepting gifts that are nothing short of bribes — private resort vacations, VIP sports passes, private jets and super yachts, mother’s rent paid by millionaire friend, etc. —  and refused to even admit that what he has done is plain wrong. Not to mention a wife who was present at the January 6 rally.

Decency in public life dictates all three should resign from their offices because of corruption. Instead, all three have dug in, out of seeming love for the power and influence their positions give to them.

One can only view with dismay the rock-bottom ethical standards that seem to rule these days. All three have shown a cavalier disregard for right conduct. The primary example for unethical behavior is of course the reported Republican frontrunner for the 2024 presidential election who would not stop until he gets back the power he loved so much.

The brazenness of the corruption is breathtaking. How much uglier will the corruption get before Americans say “enough”?

The debasement of our public life should see a limit, but the extent of darkness in our society will only get progressively worse before we say the limit has been reached.

© The FilAm 2023

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