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The Cynical Public

The Cynical Public

Chapter:
(p.76) Chapter Five The Cynical Public
Source:
Campaign Finance and American Democracy
Author(s):
David M. PrimoJeffrey D. Milyo
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226713137.003.0005

In this chapter, Primo and Milyo explore attitudes about politics writ large, and specifically, influence, corruption, and the role of money in the political system. They find that Americans are indeed cynical about the political process, but they also have an expansive view about what constitutes corruption that goes far beyond the quid pro quo conception of corruption articulated by the US Supreme Court. They also find that Americans’ views on whether a particular behavior is corrupt depends very much on the group or individual engaging in the behavior—what they call contingent cynicism. In addition, Primo and Milyo show that the rhetoric of reform groups can in some cases do more damage to attitudes toward government than the rhetoric of Donald Trump.

Keywords:   cynicism, corruption, trust in government, Donald Trump, campaign finance

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