It's hard to think of a more corrupting occupation than American politics. While it's by no means an illegal activity, as opposed to, say, operating a meth lab or running guns to Mexico, it nevertheless seems to systematically corrupt otherwise good men and women of stature and accomplishment.
Our system has, in the past 235 years, produced political leaders who have provided able national leadership during times of war, of economic strife, of civil unrest, and of growth and regeneration.
But something's not right in today's body politic. Its ability to produce leaders of quality has been severely diminished. Ironically, the world-class quality of our made-in-America products and services has risen steadily and inexorably over the last quarter century; ironically, too, the quality of our elected leaders had deteriorated steadily and inexorably over the same period. Or so it seems to me. We have philanderers and exhibitionists, bribe seekers and bribe takers, money launderers and sexual predators. We have a political class who has to beg for money virtually every day to keep their jobs. We have behavior from high elected officials that is routinely unethical, often immoral, and sometimes outright illegal. And then they have the nerve to complain about the political scruples of the Iraqi and Afghan pols.
We've always had our share of rascals in political life. I get that. And I realize our real-time, right-now, 24/7 news cycle exposes more of the underside of American life than ever before, to include political shenanigans. But heretofore we've always been able to produce political leaders to meet the challenges of the times. Someone has traditionally always stepped forward and led. Washington, Lincoln, TR, FDR, Truman, JFK, Reagan.
So where are they now? I can't find any already in national office, and I'm looking hard, believe me. Oh, maybe there's a leader in the military or private enterprise or state government who could provide quality leadership at the national level, but how long before they would be corrupted by special interests or re-election demands or the hyper partisanship or simply the arrogance that comes with raw power? And why would anyone in their right mind want to enter such a profession nowadays, what with the all-intrusive scrutiny and the pettiness and the begging and butt-kissing that go with it?
Bit of a conundrum, huh? Many good and talented Americans just stay away. And who can blame them? Those who do seek office seem to have to sell their souls to gain the office, only to be corrupted once there, swallowed by a relentless boa-like system. Not always, but seemingly often enough. And that is, if they weren't corrupt to begin with. Those moths have always been attracted by the bright lights.