Corrupt government in its essence fault of disengaged citizenry

To the editor:

When filmmaker Ken Burns gave the 2015 commencement lecture at Washington University, his eloquent oration quickly turned to the state of our society.

He cited the ongoing turmoil between government, police and the economic and socially suppressed citizens who comprise the base of American society. His concern: survival of an America that seems in the throes of self-destruction. Burns quoted Abraham Lincoln: “If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher.”

Burns’ focus was on government integrity. Integrity and honesty are the qualities that bind American society. They are in government, in particular, tantamount to the structural survival of America, for it is forthright government that provides societal cohesiveness. Local government is the base of our society and ultimately supports and reflects the honesty and integrity of the entire system.

In St. Louis, municipal governments are our societal base. But many are failing the integrity test, preying on, not protecting, their citizens.

Predatory practices abound. Abuses encompass errant police practices, kangaroo courts, malfeasance in general and government kowtowing to the “well-connected.”

Corrupt government is in its essence the fault of a disengaged citizenry.

But for venality to rule, government officials — be they elected or employed — must abandon their oath of office and willingly relinquish their personal morals, honesty and integrity.

So, paraphrasing Lincoln, if America is put asunder, it will be we, the people, who tear it apart.

Michael K. Broughton

Green Park

Editor’s note: Michael K. Broughton serves as a Ward 1 Green Park alderman.