Review Essay

Kleptocracy in America

Corruption Is Reshaping Governments Everywhere

In This Review

The Corruption Cure: How Citizens and Leaders Can Combat Graft
The Corruption Cure: How Citizens and Leaders Can Combat Graft
By Robert I. Rotberg
Princeton University Press, 2017, 400 pp. Purchase

"Drain the swamp!” the U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump shouted at campaign rallies last year. The crowds roared; he won. “Our political system is corrupt!” the Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders thundered at his own rallies. His approval rating now stands at around 60 percent, dwarfing that of any other national-level elected official. Although many aspects of U.S. politics may be confusing, Americans are clearly more agitated about corruption than they have been in nearly a century, in ways that much of the political mainstream does not quite grasp. The topic has never been central to either major party’s platform, and top officials tend to conflate what is legal with what is uncorrupt, speaking a completely different language from that of their constituents.

Although the political establishment, including the justices of the Supreme Court, may cling to a legal notion of corruption, ordinary Americans’ more visceral understanding is

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