Why do voters elect corrupt representatives?
We elect corrupt officials to represent us because political parties dictate our electoral choices. George Washington warned us of the danger of factions in his Farewell Address. Yet, factions (parties) grabbed power because we, the people, didn't understand how easily they are corrupted.
Instead of uniting the people and advancing our common interests, parties incite antagonism among the people in order to divide the electorate and increase their power. They rule by the most basic principle of domination: Divide and Conquer.
Candidates are not chosen for their integrity. Quite the contrary, they are chosen when they prove they will renounce principle and sacrifice honor for the benefit of their party.
Candidates for public office cannot mount a viable campaign without party sponsorship; they obtain sponsorship by agreeing to a party's terms. The party, assured of the loyalty of its candidates, gets money from financiers because it can promise that its candidates will enact the laws the financiers want. That's how the parties get the immense amounts of money they need for campaigns. This system corrupts the candidates and makes the parties conduits for the corruption.
Democracy is supposed to be a bottom-up concept; political power is vested in the people and rises, by their choice, to the officials they elect. We have yet to achieve that arrangement of our political existence because Washington's "cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men" were "enabled to subvert the power of the people and to usurp for themselves the reins of government". They created top-down political organizations that let them set the agendas and choose the candidates for which the people vote. These structures corrupt the democratic process because Those who set the options, control the outcome!
Not many people realize that letting political parties select the candidates for public office is profoundly undemocratic. We must help them see that, as long as the parties choose the candidates, they will select people who advance the party's interest, not ours.
If we want to elect officials who will represent us, we must start by devising an electoral process that lets each of us participate in the selection process to the full extent of our desire and ability.