Back in 2014, the story of two military veterans single-handedly tackling local political corruption quickly elevated them to “folk hero” status.
At the time, NBC Chicago reported that the duo, John Kraft and Kirk Allen, had not only videotaped local Illinois officials violating state law, but had, in fact, placed an entire local county board under citizen’s arrest:
— Chicago Tribune (@chicagotribune) March 2, 2015
The arrest occurred after the Clark County Park District Board refused to hear complaints from roughly 30 citizens.
It was at that point that Kraft — who had founded a local watchdog group along with Allen — informed the entire board that they were under citizen’s arrest for violating the Illinois Open Meetings Act by not letting the public speak.
Though several board members refused to recognize the arrest — and even attempted to walk out — they received a rude awakening when Sheriff Jerry Parsley showed up and officially enforced the arrest.
As Parsely said:
“It’s not that they should have. They’re mandated to.
The people need to have their voice. It’s not a dictatorship. It’s a democracy.”
It’s a tale of political corruption — and the public’s desire to quash it — that remains extremely relevant in today’s climate:
"We are going to go broke. It's devastating." Army veteran Master Sergeant Susan Haley on being forced to pay back bonus to Pentagon pic.twitter.com/VtnYTCGMYK
— FOX & friends (@foxandfriends) October 24, 2016
Just over this past weekend, a story broke in California that nearly 10,000 U.S. soldiers were being forced to repay enlistment bonuses for time they’d already served in the Iraq War.
The news prompted a harsh condemnation from Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), who said:
“It is unconscionable that the responsibility for paying for bureaucratic malfeasance and corruption over a decade ago is being laid at the feet of the heroes who put themselves in harm’s way to keep our nation safe.
The Department of Defense should forgive these debts immediately.”
Concerns over such “corruption” aren’t isolated to just a few Americans, either:
Earlier this year, an annual poll from Chapman University found that an overwhelming percentage of Americans — 61 percent — fear “government corruption” more than anything else, including terrorist attacks (41 pecent) and the death of a loved one (38 percent).
A Gallup poll released in 2015 echoed this fear, with 75% of Americans noting that they “perceived corruption as widespread in the country’s government.”
It’s a sentiment that GOP nominee Donald Trump has been quick to tap into:
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 22, 2016
But presidential election polls are often said to be notoriously unreliable.
Ultimately, the U.S. will have to wait until election day to see whether or not Trump’s vow to “drain the swamp” of Washington truly strikes a lasting chord with the American people.