Good Politics Is the Key to Good Government Reform Requires Voters to Come to Terms with Power and Influence

By Michael Johnston. Michael Johnston is chairman of the department of political science , N. Y., and co-editor of the Journal of Corruption and Reform. | The Christian Science Monitor, August 4, 1994 | Go to article overview

Good Politics Is the Key to Good Government Reform Requires Voters to Come to Terms with Power and Influence


Michael Johnston. Michael Johnston is chairman of the department of political science , N. Y., and co-editor of the Journal of Corruption and Reform., The Christian Science Monitor


MANY Americans regard the practice of politics - persuasion, influence, compromise, decisionmaking - as corrupt. In so doing they make reform more difficult.

Ask any talk-show audience and they'll tell you that everyone and everything in Washington is up for sale. Not only do members of Congress accept campaign contributions from political-action committees and lobbyists prowl the halls, but members of the White House staff steal towels from the Navy!

Corruption is serious business. Where contracts are being "skimmed" or decisions bought and sold, we ought to be worried. But citizens of nations like Zaire, Italy, Russia, and Brazil might wonder why we're so upset about a White House golf outing, when they have seen corruption that shakes societies to their roots.

What's going on here is not some sudden upsurge in venality nor merely a symptom of post-cold-war malaise. It is the result of deep forces in our political culture. We are both puritans and go-getters, institutional tinkerers and inheritors of revolutionary dreams. We like the rough-and-tumble competition of private interests but also dwell upon virtue and redemption.

We dislike government yet expect it to be perfected. We play with the rules, weakening leaders and fragmenting institutions, then wonder why they are so vulnerable. What we are doing is taking the politics out of politics.

There is no way government can be orderly and coherent or work at all without the exercise of power. Nor can it be made pure. Opening up the process - a curious demand since ours is among the most "open" democracies - doesn't automatically put power in the hands of everyday citizens. It rewards the organized, the well-represented, and the informed.

Officials and scholars concerned with corruption in the developing world are increasingly looking at ways to encourage and protect the participation of citizens and private interests in public life. Historically this makes sense. Limits on power only began to emerge when somebody other than numero uno had enough clout to make demands he could not ignore. Moreover, where private interests are active they can watch each other, helping to enforce the rules they accept as important. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Good Politics Is the Key to Good Government Reform Requires Voters to Come to Terms with Power and Influence
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.