A couple of years back there was a fascinating letter to the editor in the local paper here.
An immigrant from a South American Hispanic nation related how her brother got in a little trouble as a teen and had to go before a juvenile judge. He had some formal penalties to work through. For a long time this had bothered the letter writer as it seemed needlessly harsh compared to her native country. Back home, she explained, the police would have brought the boy home, taken a modest bribe, and the whole thing would have been over.
However, over time she had come to realize that the police bribe in her native country represented a societal condoning of official corruption, top to bottom, that permeated the entire culture. Theft and lying were rampant. You couldn't do anything or get anything without bribes. She had come to appreciate the relative lack of corruption and acceptance of corruption in the USA.
Obviously, we have corruption. But comparatively on the international scale, I think our culture and society are less accepting of corruption than are some other nations. When it comes to light, we are generally pretty good about condemning it and expecting official sanctions.
Sadly, and of concern to me, is I do see this fading as partisanship takes hold. It was threat of impeachment and removal from office by both Democrats and Republicans and loss of support from the electorate as a whole that forced Nixon to resign. Clinton, OTOH, was supported by those in his party and party supporters including the media and grassroots democrats such that conviction and removal was impossible. To this day, far too many think he was impeached for a simple marital affair rather than for committing perjury and denying justice to one of his victims of sexual abuse. Many Republicans are slow to admit Reagan's culpability with Iran-Contra. If society cares more for partisanship than it does for honesty and integrity in its leaders, the culture will suffer.