(cross-posted at Society for Independent Thinking)
Though it is not completely without a sense of schadenfreude that I watch the Chicago Democrat party implode, this recent Blagojavich scandle has gotten me thinking about the nature of political corruption in general. And about the simple fact that, as much as we’d like it to be, the Republican Party is not immune to the corruption of power, any more than the Dems appear to be.
In recent years, voters have seen more than our share of corrupt politicians, engaged in everything from prostitution and sex scandles to buying votes on the senate floor to the pay-for-play antics like those of the Chicago Gov.
But where does it come from? Frankly, I believe it comes, primarily, from two places. First, as the saying goes, “power corrupts.” You’d have to ask a psychologist about the effects being voted into a position of authority can have on the ego. But I think we can agree that those effects are certainly evident in many cases. Secondly, put simply, we the voters allow them to get away with it — often with nothing more than a slap on the wrist, and occasionally, without even that.
Let’s explore this second point first, because I know some readers will have several probelms with the idea that we, the voters, are to blame for party and government leadership not holding politicians accountable. Do you remember Bill Clinton? That big, overblown scandal that occurred just because Bubba got some strange in the Oval Office? People claimed that too big a deal was being made about the President’s extra-marital affairs. Those merits can be argued (though, personally, I believe our leaders ought to be held to the highest of standards), but to do so misses the point entirely. The problem wasn’t that he violated the sanctity of the Office, and potentially posed a national security risk by letting his intern go down on him in the National Holy of Holies. The problem was simply that he broke the law. He lied under oath. That is a crime. It is a small, white-collar crime, but illegal, nonetheless. But the Gatekeepers of popular opinion (AKA the Mainstream Media), Congressional Democrats and even many voters chose to ignore this simple fact because, after all, he was the most powerful man in the world. Surely such a small thing shouldn’t take down such a powerful person!
And it is precisely that attitude which allows corruption to flourish in state and national power center coutry-wide. Those in a position of power should not be held to lower standards than the public, but higher. Leaders lead. When they fail to be good leaders, it becomes the duty of the citizen to disqualify them from the role. And, if it is others in power to whom that duty falls, and they also fail in it, then it is our duty to vote them out as well, in favor of those with a correct view of authority.
The other problem goes back to that quote I mentioned: “Power corrupts.” True enough. But there’s that pesky follow-up: “Absolute power corrupts absolutely.” As more information about Blagojavich comes out, we find people talking about his “instability,” as though this were something about which many of those who helped get him into power already knew. So why is it that they still worked to install him into the Governor’s chair? Basically, because he was a Democrat.
If it is indeed true that “power corrupts,” and that “absolute power corrupts absolutely,” it must also follow that the more power given to a person or entity, the more potential for corruption exists. In short, the most basic reason corrupt officials keep getting elected is because we don’t have any other options.
The Party system controlling American politics ensures that only a select group are presented to the voters for election, and of that group, only two are actually serious contenders for a given election. George Washington warned of exactly this circumstance, and has since been poo-pooed by even Conservatives as “out of touch.” Nonetheless, it is indeed the Party system which denies the voter a real set of options, and continues to make possible the re-election of those who would sell us out for financial gain, those who disrespect the office to which they are called to serve and those to dishoner their country and fellow countrymen by acts unbecoming leaders.
I will go into greater detail on the party system and how it has corrupted American government at a later date. For now though, we work with what we have.
And what we have is a dirty system, peopled by dirty politicias. It is time for a cleansing, in every party. It is time, if we must deal within a party system, to stop allowing those who disgrace America leadership to continue to do so. They are not serving us, but themselves, and it is high time they were routed out. It is time for voters to make it our business to know what our elected officials are up to, what they know and what they do with that information, who they talk to, and what decisions they are making.
It is time to clean house, starting with Blagojavich, and anybody we can take down with him. And when we’re done with him, it’s time to move on to national politicians. Get mad, folks. Get very mad. And then, get even.