There are lots of places where the link between nepotism and corruption is painfully clear. In South Korea, President Park Geun-hye was removed from office in March in a corruption scandal involving a close family friend and adviser.
In Azerbaijan, President Ilham Aliyev (who inherited his job from his father) appointed his wife as vice president. His children have enriched themselves through their leadership in various state-run businesses, some vaguely disclosed, most not. The country has one of the world’s lowest transparency ratings, according to Transparency International, and corruption is endemic to the way the government is run.
In India, where the Nehru-Gandhi family has held some kind of power for nearly as long as the country has been independent, political dynasties are common on the national and local level. More than a fifth of all elected officials are relatives of someone else in office. Corruption is “crippling all the organs of state and reaching into its highest offices,” former Indian finance minister Jaswant Singh wrote on Al Jazeera’s website.
The U.S. presidency has always been prone to sultanistic tendencies, but under a Trump presidency what were once isolated incidents have predictably become a way of governing. When the closest advisers, both institutional (like Ivanka and Kushner) and informal (in the case of his two adult sons), are dominated by family members, the decision-making process will not only be erratic and possibly influenced by private family interests but also tend to ignore legal procedures that have also met the test of time.
Instead of a “team of rivals” under the rule of law, the Trump presidency may be akin to a medieval monarchy, with decisions made by court politics, not legal procedures.