Date of Award

Spring 1993

Document Type



Political Science & International Relations

First Advisor

Dennis Wiedmann

Second Advisor

Phillip Wittman

Third Advisor

Fr. Eugene Peoples


This study examines the problem of corruption as it relates to the growth of public cynicism and the weakened ability of America to govern. Therefore, corruption acts as a political cancer that plagues our society. The danger of this cancer lies in the destruction it is capable of doing to our civic faith necessary for governing. We can define corruption as a deviation from the formal regulations or duties that characterize a public role for the sake of a perceived private gain. The result of corruption is a sense of betrayal that heightens public cynicism. As cynical feelings run rampant, any belief in the society and government are destroyed—making it difficult to govern.

When tensions strain the bottleneck between what the people want and what the people get, incentives to engage in corrupt activity increase as the stakes (perceived private gains) are raised. Any notion of democracy (e.g., fairness equality, honesty, and justice) is then hindered because a clientele type of government forms. In this type of government, where only those who can afford to pay for their goods with money, power, influence, or favors get the "goodies" from government. Hence a double standard exists, generating more tension and overwhelming amounts of cynical feeling towards the government and those in public roles. Special attention must be given to the two primary institutions that are responsible of upholding the very base of our civic faith—the judiciary and the police. Then effective reform measures can be suggested in order to prevent America's continued downward trajectory.