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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Dayo Olopade, a Nigerian-American journalist and technologist living in London, used the term "corruption anxiety" to describe "the knowledge that society can be and has been manipulated to favor the powerful, at your expense" in a speech at Georgetown University on Tuesday.

Why it matters: It's the sentiment that drove the Arab Spring, but it's not confined to developing countries. The Tea Party, Occupy, the Brexiteers, the Yellow Vests, even Donald "stop this corrupt machine" Trump — all of them feed from a well of broad-based corruption anxiety. As Olopade puts it: "Corruption anxiety unifies the populist left and the populist right."

The big picture: Corruption scandals are magnified by each other. Theranos and Goldman Sachs and Martin Shkreli and Purdue Pharma and the Fyre Festival and the Catholic Church and billionaire Jeffrey Epstein and parking placard abuse and police violence and all the various Trump administration scandals aren't bad apples: They're part of a pattern, one that the American public is hyperaware of. These headlines foment mistrust in the fairness of the entire system.

Be smart: Western countries are generally perceived as less corrupt than most countries in Africa. But perceptions don't always mirror reality. "Our current corruption discourse is a form of geopolitical racial profiling," says Olopade. Any given act of corruption tends to get blamed on an individual actor in the West, while being considered symptomatic of a broader malaise in a place like Nigeria.

The bottom line: The Mueller report has refocused America's attention on malfeasance during the 2016 election campaign. But as Robert Rotberg puts it in his book about corruption, “Greed never stops at the edge of a presidential palace." The more frequently everyday Americans are reminded that our system is rigged, the less they're going to be willing participants in that system.

Go deeper

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Homicides rose at the fastest rate in at least six decades last year. This Axios AM Deep Dive, led by Future correspondent Bryan Walsh, looks at the state of gun crime.

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Senate Democrats target billionaires

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After failing to get a deal on other planned tax increases, key Senate Democrats are pivoting to a billionaires' income tax to pay for President Biden's social spending.

The big picture: No advanced economy has attempted anything similar on such a scale.

Anti-abortion activists' Supreme Court dreams are coming true

Photo illustration: Annelise Capossela. Photos: Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

This is the moment the conservative legal movement has been building toward for decades: The solidly conservative Supreme Court is about to hear two major abortion cases within a month of each other.

Why it matters: All of this is likely to end with significant new restrictions on abortion and a clear path for Republican-led states to win the next big abortion cases, too — the culmination of a long and bitter fight for control of the judiciary.