Bullshit Philosophy

Half-assed political and religious commentary from a cynical left-winger

The obligatory Blagojevich post from a former Illinoisan

Posted by Kevin on December 28, 2008

“If the state of Illinois politics today doesn’t demonstrate the need for the people to embrace and build the Green Party – a true party of, by and for the people – I don’t know what will.” -Rich Whitney, 2006 (and possibly 2010) IL Green gubernatorial candidate, in a statement on the arrest of Gov. Rod Blagojevich

Ok, so the word on the street these days is that Rod Blagojevich is a corrupt douchebag. It’s a big enough story that I doubt I need to go into the details. Let’s just accept it as a given for the moment that Blago is, in fact, a corrupt douchebag. My question is: Is that really news?

It was obvious he was corrupt as hell years ago. The Dems didn’t have much of a problem with pay-for-play when Blago was up for reelection in 2006, at least not enough of one to actually do something about it. I remember well how progressives then didn’t have time to worry about little things like corruption, and couldn’t vote for Rich Whitney, because the most important thing in the world was beating Judy Baar Topinka. This is an archetypal example of what you end up with by voting for the lesser of evils instead of the people you actually agree with.

Also: how is this not just a particularly brazen example of the sort of behavior that’s considered business as usual in Springfield (or in Washington for that matter)? As Christopher Hayes notes over at The Nation: “I’m not defending this at all. Let me make that clear. I’m saying that politicians trade things for fundraising help all the time, it’s half of what they do. So where’s the line where that becomes illegal?”

It bothers me that thus far this scandal has been presented by the establishment as just one particularly rotten apple, rather than a symptom of a wider problem. Of course, both the Democrats and Republicans would rather we think that if we just get rid of this one guy, everything will be fine. Not that I think Blago shouldn’t be impeached. But that should be the first step, not the last. One of the biggest other steps is of course serious reform of Illinois’ pretty much nonexistent campaign finance regulations. In addition, Illinoisans should be getting rid of not just Blago but all the corrupt politicians, starting with House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President Emil Jones.

This situation presents us with a test of how possible it really is to work within the two-party system. If the Dems, who control pretty much all the levers of power in Illinois, don’t push for an end to pay-for-play politics now, there’s no reason to believe they will when public engagement and outrage isn’t as strong as it is currently. If they continue to obstruct real change, then that leaves no reasonable choice but to abandon them and join an independent movement that isn’t beholden to them or the moneyed interests that control them.

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2 Responses to “The obligatory Blagojevich post from a former Illinoisan”

  1. No one ever questions the lack of media exposure of these corruption cases either. I think it is because of the growing dominance of the internet-based alternative news media and armies of bloggers that we are finally shedding sunshine into these dark corners. It certainly didn ‘t begin with the traditional mainstream media. Thank you for this excellent posting. Peace, Jim

  2. Blagojevich has been so successful at making himself and his office look ridiculous that about a million people are now able to remember and maybe even spell his crazy name — that’s sort of like an accomplishment, right?

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