Acton Institute Powerblog

To Counter Corruption, This Country Elected a Comedian as President

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jimmy_morales1.jpg_346057997A television celebrity with no political experience beat out a former first lady to win the presidential election.

No, this isn’t a prediction from the future Trump-Clinton presidential race. This really happened—in Guatemala.

Jimmy Morales, who appeared in a comedy sketch show for 14 years, recently received 67.4 percent of the vote while Sandra Torres, who divorced her husband while he was still in office, received only 32.6 percent.

Despite the landslide victory, though, the voters aren’t necessarily enthusiastic about Morales (only half of those eligible actually voted). They just like his message: “ “Not corrupt, nor a thief.”

Corruption in Guatemala is so rampant that U.N.-sponsored agency was brought in to investigate. The result, as the Wall Street Journal notes, is that corruption charges were brought “against the sitting president, vice president, the heads of the central bank, customs and tax agency, and social security institute, the head of congress, leaders from several political parties, a judge, and a vice presidential candidate. Nearly all are in custody.”

Not much is really known about Morales political views. He’s an evangelical Christian who supports socially conservative views as well as low taxes and limited government. But the country’s citizens were so fed up with corruption that they were willing to take a chance on him simply because he “represented a fresh start and promised to fight against graft.”

Whether Morales is able to make progress against the scourge of corruption will depend on the people of Guatemala. Corruption is often as much of a symptom of society’s values as it is a systematic political problem. As Osvaldo Schenone and Samuell Gregg say in their Acton Institute monograph A Theory of Corruption, “corruption is ultimately derived from the personal choices of individuals to violate the law that, as Saint Paul reminds us, is written on our hearts.”

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Joe Carter Joe Carter is a Senior Editor at the Acton Institute. Joe also serves as an editor at the The Gospel Coalition, a communications specialist for the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, and as an adjunct professor of journalism at Patrick Henry College. He is the editor of the NIV Lifehacks Bible and co-author of How to Argue like Jesus: Learning Persuasion from History's Greatest Communicator (Crossway).

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