Politics, corruption and pessimistic voters - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

Politics, corruption and pessimistic voters

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This nowhere-near-exhaustive list only highlights some of the politicians from the state of New York who got caught and convicted of a crime in the last three years:

William Boyland Jr; state assemblyman; bribery

Larry Seabrook; New York City councilman; money laundering, extortion and fraud

Shirley Huntley; state senator; mail fraud

Carl Kruger; state senator; corruption and bribery

Alan Hevesi; state comptroller; corruption

"If you look at the amount of corruption in New York, which is astounding, we still have more legislators leaving in handcuffs than leaving because they've been thrown out of office in New York, which is quite a shocking shame," said Dr. Jeanne Zaino, who teaches political science at Iona College.

Like the rest of us, she watches Anthony Weiner apologize for sexting, news of Eliot Spitzer's prostitution habit, and yet another of this nation's elected leaders sentenced to prison with a mixture of exhaustion, outrage, and curiosity.

"Is there just more corruption? Is the media just publicizing it more? Are prosecutors just getting better at uncovering it?" she said.

Since man first started to organize, few would ever confuse politics for a terribly civilized field. The original political backstabber dates back to ancient Rome. Even this great nation boasts a long history of dirty politics.

"You had parties running newspapers and when parties ran newspapers, the deplorable things they'd say about the other side," Zaino said.

But those newspapers also didn't condense their stories into 140 characters and instantaneously publish that propaganda everywhere on the planet.

Today's news cycle, the Internet, and a world worth of amateur watchdogs leaves most of us more disenchanted with politicians than ever before.

But according to Zaino the system deserves more blame than the individuals we idolize, elect, and then loathe.

"If you do not have means, you either cannot run or you have to go ask people with means to support you," Zaino said.

It takes a ton of money to win an office, a ton of money to keep an office, and then some potentially shady deals to repay those who financed you.

"young people are really turned off by what they see," Zaino said.

The political scandals of the past inform the pessimism of the present for Zaino's students. But any hope for the politics of the future requires two things: structural change to the system and for our best, brightest, and most principled individuals to seek office. And we likely can't achieve one of those goals without the other.

"It's like a sport," Zaino said. "You've got to change those rules of the game."

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