Regardless of political orientation, ideological framework or economic preferences, any political system that claims uphold the Rule of Law makes corruption inadmissible at all levels, means and scales of government. The Rule of Law is what builds the basic agreement about what should or what should not be admissible in any society. Everything that complies with the law is political, economic and social acceptable. Anything that does not comply with the law is absolutely unacceptable, even transforming a grimy city into the most appealing city in New England as Vincent Cianci’s case, or reviving Lawrence for immigrants in William Lantigua’s . There is not trade off for leaders, there is only one standard: the law.
The “Paradox of the Leadership” shows up among public opinion. It is right there, in democratic systems, where voters’ opinion derives on either political support or public condemn to corrupt practices. Voters’ opinion is indeed what draws the line and sets the standards for public moral matters. Being the latter different from law issues only when the questioned actions are not explicitly regulated by the law. Whenever a “questionable” issue occurs outside of the legal sphere, it becomes a moral issues. Moral issues are addressed by Voters, legal issues are addressed by judges. Lantigua is running for reelection in Lawrence.
The Case of Vincent A. Cianci represents a good example of that dichotomy. Public opinion forgave Cianci’s actions because of its utter outcomes: Having “transformed Providence from a grimy industrial backwater into the liveliest, most appealing city in New England…” (New York Times, 2002). It is needless to discuss here what a judge ruled in Rhode Island. That was a matter of the Rule of Law, and as such it must remain unquestionable. However, the fact that deserves more attention is that of: “One woman expressed it in a few words of elegant paradox: ”I wish he’d get away with it.” (New York Times, 2002).
The woman’s statement may reflect two different scenarios: first, the standard of values in politics has become flexible enough to the extend that it is feasible to forgive corruption in order to advance a public agenda. Second, the woman who made the statement is crazy. For the latter scenario there should not be concerns: it is a isolated case. However, for the former scenario, there are consequences: first, there is a public justification for corruption which leads very often to social inequality. Second, there is a misconception of the nature of public resources, which eventually ends up in inefficient and expensive public sector. Third, there is a validation for out-of-the-law means, which often ends up with the lose of public confidence and in some extreme cases political violence. Finally, if the public opinion strongly supports the idea of a moral shift, which is similar to say, it is OK to forgive corruption in order to advance a public agenda, then moral political institutions must have evolved so much and to the extend that a new frame of values and standards must replace the “ancient regime”.