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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

14 mins ago - Podcasts

Podcast: After the Biden inaugural

Joe Biden was sworn in today as America's 46th president in an inauguration unlike any other in modern history.

Axios Re:Cap goes deeper into the speech, the atmosphere and what it all tells us about the incoming administration, with Axios political reporters Hans Nichols and Alexi McCammond.

Biden embarks on a consequential presidency

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Donald Trump tried everything to delegitimize the rival who vanquished him. In reality, he's set Joe Biden on course to be a far more consequential U.S. president than he might otherwise have become.

The big picture: President Biden now confronts not just a pandemic, but massive political divisions and an assault on truth — and the aftermath of the assault on the Capitol two weeks ago that threatened democracy itself.

Updated 46 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Inauguration Day dashboard

U.S. Capitol and stage are lit at sunrise ahead of the inauguration of Joe Biden. Photo: Patrick Semansky - Pool/Getty Images

President Biden has delivered his inaugural address at the Capitol, calling for an end to the politics as total war but warning that "we have far to go" to heal the country.

What's next: Representatives from all branches of the military escort the 46th president to the White House.