Nepotism in the United States


In these advanced days in the world, life has changed in many aspects, yet some practices emerged and are not changing, and seem not to be changing anytime sooner. Nepotism is one of them. Favoritism is the broadest term used to describe the habit. It is the form of corruption that is most underrated or which commands less attention. On the other hand, it has a deep-rooted history, and across the world, the tradition has seen it happen even in the top leadership. In this form of corruption, family members dominate the positions in all the fields, influenced by their relatives in higher positions. According to Chalabi (par. 7), 22 percent of sons in the US work for the same employer as their father by the time they are thirty years old.

The true position of the nepotism in the society is an area that does not command too much attention; nevertheless, understanding its roots is important. What is nepotism? This term can be defined in simple terms as the process of granting favors to relatives in the different fields, which includes politics, business, sports, entertainment, and religion among others. It is simply the practice in which the influential members grants favors to their related counterparts at the expense of others who might have been qualified for the role. This can be detrimental to the progress of an organization or the country and it is associated with underperformance.

Coming back to our American society, nepotism has been common, yet it is a problem that not so many people pay attention to. In politics and entertainment and above all in the organizations, individuals in higher positions are most likely to hire their relatives or close friends they have family ties with at the expense of the qualified and legible professionals.

Categories of Nepotism

The routine of nepotism can be broadly classified into two main categories; political and organizational. Political nepotism influences mainly the alignment and appointments, including all other political favors granted to people from their relatives. On the other hand, organizational nepotism is rife in big corporations when it comes to the hiring of experts in specific positions and this is the commonly reflected type, in which most people feel the wrath of missing the opportunities as a result of favoritism.

Politics controls how the country runs and the politicians deem it very important to have the people that they can easily draw support from. It is important, for them, to have that kind of loyal reassurance that cannot threaten their positions and will always endorse and support their stands and suggestions.  In many countries across the world, political nepotism is a common occurrence. It is deep-rooted in a lot of nations. Sometimes, one might be tempted to define the hierarchical United Kingdom leadership as highly nepotistic. In the UK, the society has generally accepted that leadership rests with the royal family which runs the whole country.

Politics in countries like North Korea, for instance, does not give any chance to a generally accepted specific ways of appointments. President Kim Jong-un appoints at his will and whoever he wants to appoint. From the close family members to loyal friends, it is a trend that no one would attempt to question because its punishment is beyond humility. Across Africa, it is highly believed that nepotism is active and lively just as anywhere else. The integrity levels are low and as witnessed in Zimbabwe; before the removal of the former president Robert Mugabe, there were high reports that he intended to hand power to his influential wife Grace Mugabe in an open show of nepotism and favoritism.

On the other hand, organizational favoritism is the commonly practiced form of corruption everywhere in which people favor the employment of their family members instead of other qualified applicants. When you deeply review the organizational nepotism, a lot of ethical and professional questions emerge. Sometimes it is difficult to determine the evilness or the necessity of this tradition at workplaces without having to evaluate the situation and understand the context in which it is carried out. In some cases, it is done out of necessity and in others; it is done completely to favor specific people for organizational positions.

During the recruitment process, ethically, there is nothing wrong with hiring your relative who ticks all the boxes of the requirements and who stands out as the best candidate among the rest. In life, coincidences do occur, and in some situations, a manager of a top corporation might be found in a situation whereby five members of his family are well qualified for a job in different positions within the firm. In this case, qualifications will matter to the most watchers if all of them are going to get absorbed. However, a lot of integrity questions would arise. Some would argue that, in that case, the family members were eligible for the positions. However, some would beg to differ and emphasize on the balance of appointments. One clear conclusion is that such kind of managers would be dubbed as nepotistic.

Similarly, some appointments in bigger business firms are very dictatorial. In an organization dominated by family ties, it is difficult to land a job position fairly and squarely. Some firms are run completely by the families though. In this case, all the trust of the business operations is left to the members of the circle to manage and control their property. The external labor may be required for manual labor and not at the top management level where all the decisions are made by the family members in the top management. In such scenario, favoritism may be out of equation, but integrity would definitely be tested.

Nepotism in the United States

In America, the political class is closely knitted.  According to Stossel (par. 1), the family ties in the American politics, for instance, runs deep than imagined. Favoritism is rife and openly practiced. The society does not question it either as it has come a normal part of their typical lives. Nepotism is a form of corruption that has not caught the eyes of many citizens in the nation, but regardless of any scenario, the political appointments of the relatives and friends should strictly be prohibited because it goes against the principles of the homeland.

There is a rich history that relates many US presidents with the practices that have often favored their close relatives. President Donald Trump has been criticized for his appointments in his regime, but not only is him associated with such claims. Many presidents have been involved in the same frail and this has clearly defined the US as a country of favoritism. As Ghallagher (par. 1) ascertains, Donald Trump, John Adams, Woodrow Wilson, Ulysses Grant and Franklin Roosevelt and Dwight Eisenhower were all involved in the appointments of their close family members to the top ranks of their governments and approved high-level security for them.

For instance, in recent times, President Trump has come under fire and for the wrong reasons. Trump appointed Jared Kushner, his son in law, in a position of a senior adviser in his government. Additionally, he refined a new office for daughter Ivanka, who is the Kushner’s wife and assigned her top-level government security. Trump’s sons Eric and Donald, Jr. have been reported to associate with their father’s office and sharing their business ideas together, a point that raises obvious conflict of interests. Former presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush were in the spotlight for their roles. When Clinton tasked his wife Hillary with healthcare reforms, he had to contend the criticisms and the accusations. Similarly, George W. Bush was accused of benefiting from his father’s tenure as he hunted to achieve his own.

One of the most surprising forms of political nepotism occurred when John F. Kennedy appointed his brother Robert F. Kennedy as the Attorney General in his government. It was an appointment that drew so much criticism, as it was believed RFK had no experience in the legal field. However, he proved his critics wrong by emerging as one of the most progressive leaders the country has ever witnessed and a champion for the civil rights. On many occasions, he collided with his brother, President Kennedy on the civil rights and the fighting of the organized crime during JFK’s tenure.

In the history of the American society, John Adams was one of the most documented presidents in the books of favoritism. The trends show that Trump’s current practices are not something new, rather, it a reconfirmation of what already exists in our society. Adams appointed his son Quincy as a Prussian diplomat in an attempt to prepare him for the presidency and it was met with resistance which clearly meant that most Americans did not like the idea. Likewise, he went ahead on several occasions to try and land a job for his son-in-law William Smith. And after many failed attempts, he finally landed a job for Smith as the customs agent and further landed jobs for his brother-in-law and his father-in-law as well.

Similar to the trends of nepotism that has been experienced in the political class of the United States, president Ulysses Grant went to the history books as one of the American presidents with an open and aggressive nepotistic history. He reportedly benefited over forty of his relatives including brother-in-laws, and cousins. Grant’s tenure was marred by corruption scandals and this was epitomized by his appointments. He once appointed his cousin Silas Hudson as the minister to Guatemala. These were kind of practices that confirm a deep-rooted history of nepotism in this country, fueled by the people who should have fought to eradicate the integrity-damaging scandals.

Other notable contributors in the line of the corrupt presidents in the American history include Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt, and Dwight Eisenhower. Wilson’s case was different because when he appointed William McAdoo as the secretary of the treasury as well as the chairman of the fed, he had not yet become the member of their family but he later married Wilson’s daughter and refused to step down. Wilson went ahead to add more responsibilities to his son-in-law.

Roosevelt and Eisenhower had their sons appointed to the administrative posts with the former appointing his son as the in a secretarial occupation while Eisenhower appointed him as an assistant staff secretary. The nepotistic practices in the US have a long history but what is more surprising is the fact that it was rife among the top government officials. If an audit is carried out on the government ministries and organizations, cases of favoritism results would astonish the country.

The Effects of Nepotism on Society

Any form of corruption in society is lethal to the continuity and prosperity. It drags down the general progress, promotes poor cultures, denies people opportunities and contributes to poor performances at the organizational level and poor service delivery in the public service sector. Specifically, nepotism has emerged as one of the greatest social evils in the contemporary world. While some underrate its effects, the victims of discrimination originating from this menace can attest to its evils. People openly lose jobs and others have missed chances they should have been awarded because they were not connected to the people responsible for hiring or the top management. It has devastating effects in all the aspects of human life; social, political and economic.

The primary results of this tradition are the increased unwarranted appointments of many people in organizations and in government posts. In the application process, people with family ties with the recruiter have a higher chance of landing a job advertised. The history of nepotism with the American presidents also show that the top masters involved in these kinds of scandals appointed their relatives at their will. Brothers, brother-in-laws, sons, sons-in-law, and daughters received a hand in favor because their fathers were top there in the government ranks. Ethically, it does not bode well with many citizens; because, there could have been better-qualified appointees who would have done much better without raising the integrity issues.

Nepotism slows down economic growth. The nepotistic appointments have a higher probability of installing incompetent candidates and this impact negatively on the firm or business. In addition, some political appointments do not consider the qualifications of their relatives. For instance, when John F Kennedy hired Robert F Kennedy to the position of the Attorney General, he knew well that RFK had no any legal experience to warrant his selection. However, he went ahead to gamble by selecting his brother. It was one of the greatest risks of nepotism as a practice, but thankfully RFK proved his critics wrong by emerging as one of the most progressive leaders liked by many. Conversely, these kinds of situations do not happen often and had he emerged as a poor principal, it could have impacted negatively on the President Kennedy’s reign.

Culturally, nepotism is dangerous because it cultivates bad morals in the society members. If the public accepts this kind of immorality to prevail amongst them, then it threatens their existence and their progress in all the societal factors would stagnant. It is, therefore, very important to stand against such practices especially from the leaders to enhance transparency and fairness in the resource allocations.


While a lot of ordinary American citizens do to understand the atrocities of nepotism, it is a predicament that needs awareness. The effects of this problem are extensive and it affects the social life and even religion is not spared. In most cases, when a business or organization ventures in the hiring of their family members without having to consider the appropriateness of the appointee, they risk going down through incompetence and lack of accountability as well as the general mismanagement.

Many businesses have gone down the drain from the effects of improper management and the consequences of nepotism (Brookins par. 1). It is important that government formulates the strict regulatory measures or even create campaigns to raise awareness to inform those being denied their deserved chances from the unfair activities. On the point of exception, not all family-related appointments are a form of nepotism. When a candidate fulfills all the requirements of the post, he or she can have a chance fairly and deservedly. Nepotism occurs only when the action itself is carried out to favor people within the same family circle without any kind of consideration.

Works Cited

Brookins, Miranda. Consequences of Nepotism. 26 September 2017. 14 December 2017 <>.

Chalabi, Mona. Measuring nepotism: is it more prevalent in the US than in other countries? 24 March 2017. 14 December 2017 <>.

Ghallagher, Brendan. A Brief History of Nepotism in the White House. 27 March 2017. 14 December 2017 <>.

Stossel, John. Family Ties Run Deep in U.S. Politics. 6 February 2017. 14 December 2017 <>.