Cleaning Up Corruption

We tread ever so carefully – with malice towards none, with charity for all (well it seems fitting to invoke Abraham Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Speech!) – this week into the interesting exercise in democracy called the 2016 United States Presidential Election.

Far be it for McLeod Governance to pass judgment on the suitability or otherwise of the Nominees – we are but interested spectators. And for the avoidance of ALL doubt this missive is neither an endorsement or what is the opposite of an endorsement.

And being an interested spectator this week meant that something caught our eye.

It was a speech at Gettysburg from the Republican Nominee, Mr Trump, for the President of the United States.

Gettysburg is where Republican President Abraham Lincoln delivered his famous Address in November 1863 in an attempt to unify Americans amid the Civil War.

Mr Trump – in his newly constructed Contract with America – said

What follows is my 100-day action plan to Make America Great Again.

It is a contract between Donald J. Trump and the American voter – and begins with restoring honesty, accountability and change to Washington

Therefore, on the first day of my term of office, my administration will immediately pursue … measures to clean up the corruption  (our emphasis) 

He proceeded to set out six approaches that he would adopt primarily relating to the curtailment of extended or unelected power in Congress.

For the avoidance of doubt again we are not here to debate whether Mr Trump is suitability qualified or not for the role that he is seeking.

Rather we want to take him at his words that within 100 days he or anyone could “clean up corruption”.

It wasn’t so much the initiatives themselves that were a matter for this post – if enacted they may reduce corruption.

More so that there was a vision that implied that corruption could be “cleaned up”.

Cleaning up anything – whether it is a child’s dirty bedroom through to corruption in democratic institutions – implies that there is a level of behavior at which one considers the corruption to have been cleaned up.

What is that level?

Is a little bit of corruption OK if it means that most of the corruption is addressed?

Is addressing systemic corruption the aim but ad hoc moments of character weakness are OK?

In dealing with corruption related matters throughout our career what has struck us is that the word – necessarily emotive as it is – is nearly impervious to quantification.

There is always something more to do.

And hence that is ultimately the greatest challenge in Mr Trump’s plan.

When you do get to that point of having cleaned up corruption your goal posts change what was previously  minor misadventure becomes relatively of greater importance.

And the eternal journey of corruption deterrence and elimination continues. 

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