The public, in the years following the Watergate scandal, has grown increasingly cynical about the integrity of public officials and the ability of government to solve difficult local, state and national problems. Despite great optimism that Watergate would mark the beginning of a new era of integrity in government, the opposite has occurred. Watergate, instead, ushered in an era of unprecedented public integrity carnage.
The carnage had little to do with legitimate concern over the condition of public service ethics. It had much more to do with the trend in American politics that saw movement conservatives and new progressives battle over the role of government in American society. Movement conservatives fought to dismantle the administrative state. New progressives struggled to preserve the responsibility of government for dealing with a vast array of problems facing American society.
This book argues that the public integrity war has made it next to impossible for the public and the media to distinguish between legitimate character issues and those motivated by ideology. Furthermore, the public integrity war will likely continue as long as movement conservatives and new progressives continue their struggle to convince the majority of the American public to accept their respective visions of government.