The DeVos Hearings Should Remind Us Of What Corruption Really Is

The word “corruption” to the American ear usually leads to another: bribery. We have a narrow definition of corruption, an image of someone paying a government official with a bag of cash slipped under the office door. We like to think of ourselves as above such open thievery. We’re sneakier about it. Yet this election produced two candidates who have obviously engaged in practices that some might consider corrupt (sorry, Hillary). The outrageous speaking fees earned by the Clintons, however, were much easier mental images to grasp than Trump’s complicated web of hidden business entanglements and unverified dossiers. Far easier to picture Hillary with a big old check from Goldman Sachs. Betsy DeVos, fumbling for words and screwing up basic questions, is similarly easy to understand. She has, as Bernie Sanders said, simply bought her way into this. And she has sorely miscalculated. The self-made man is an enduring myth of the American meritocracy. While wealthy people have often held office, generally they are those who have dedicated their lives to serving in government (the Kennedys, the Bushes). Whether they had altruistic...

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