(Re the idea that the institutions are the problem):
I don’t think it’s the institutions, I think it’s the people. It’s a combination of corruption and cowardice.
Take Congress. Many of them are corrupt, but for the most part it’s small-scale corruption that most people wouldn’t bat an eye at. But they refrain from calling out much greater levels of corruption because they know there would be retaliation. Even if they haven’t done anything particularly awful, the groundwork will have been set for their lives and the lives of their families to be torn apart, either by malicious investigations or trained media vultures or angry constituents — but probably all of the above.
The ones who aren’t corrupt know to keep their heads down and not rock the boat, because the moment they blow the whistle, the horde will descend upon them, and they’ll be subjected to much of the same (if not identical) treatment as the corruption-lite ones above.
And then there is the big-corrupt. For the reasons outlined above, they’re the safest. And the more power they manage to acquire — either by trading favors or selling contracts or diverting funds — the safer they become. They gain leverage over the people beneath them and use and discard them whenever necessary.
Whatever stories do mange to leak out — generally by the people over which they have oversight — are easily dismissed as wild smears or “conspiracy theories” (regardless of whether any conspiracy is actually implied), or else they get scooped up and embellished by people on the Internet to the point that they might as well feature big foot and bat boy and lizard people.
And then there are the truly evil people, like Adam Schiff. Though hardly anyone ever reaches the level of Schiff. He’s found ways to monetize, weaponize, and shield himself with the sensitive nature of the committee on which he sits and currently chairs. But I don’t want to get into Schiff right now except to say that the guy doesn’t have TDS — he is a full-blown sociopath. Highly intelligent and very dangerous.