Political Scandals During The Twentieth Century

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Corruption in campaigns, in the modern sense of candidates being swayed by corporate influence, was a result of the changes brought on by the Industrial and Technological Revolutions. These revolutions created millionaire captains of industry whose immense influence and power held sway over the future of the United States both economically and politically. Elections and campaigning methods drastically changed as technology allowed candidates to reach voters through new kinds of advertising. Gone were the days when being born in a log cabin was the key to door of the Oval Office, the effectiveness of a candidate’s campaign now correlated with the amount of money backing it. The early twentieth century also saw the continuance of the widespread corruption, particularly in the railroad industry, but also in political campaigns, that had plagued the late nineteenth century before it. The significance of this is that, while corruption had no doubt existed prior to this period, the sheer scale of this new corruption and the magnitude of the resulting political scandals was unlike anything America had witnessed before. Muckraking writer Lincoln Steffens, in his book The Shame of the Cities, described the problem of the political sphere of his time by stating: “politics is business. That 's what 's the matter with it. That 's what 's the matter with everything.” (Steffens 2) Something clearly needed to be done to stem the rising corruption and action came as the progressive movement
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