Number One Fear For Americans: Corruption

According to Chapman University’s new Survey of American Fears, Halloween isn’t what scares Americans most. Corruption of government officials, which made 58 percent of respondents “Afraid” or “Very Afraid,” topped the list, above terrorism (traditional, cyber- and bio-), economic collapse and credit card fraud.

The idea that our government acts not for voters, but for donors, is truly a scary thought. People from both sides of the aisle are worried that our democracy is for sale. Michele Bachmann points to the “corrupt paradigm” in Washington, “whereby votes continually are bought rather than representatives voting the will of their constituents.” Former President Jimmy Carter argues that America is now an oligarchy, “with unlimited political bribery being the essence of getting the nominations for president or to elect the president [and] governors and U.S. senators and congressmembers.”

Fear not, or fear less, America: there are efforts being made around the country to reduce or preclude corruption. From South Carolina’s ban on lobbyist contributions or California’s robust political gift restrictions, to calls for President Obama to sign an executive order mandating that federal contractors disclose their political spending, there has been an active push to ensure that policymakers legislate for the American people. In fact, the Chapman survey shows how vital these reform efforts are in a time where there is such widespread concern about the functioning of our democracy.