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Illinois politics, Chicago corruption...I told you so

By Frank Salvato
web posted December 22, 2008

Prior to the November General Election I wrote an article called "This Is What a Vote for Obama Gets You". It highlighted the state of affairs here in Democrat controlled Illinois. Beyond that it introduced the reality that most Democrat politicians (and some Republicans for that matter) who emanate from Illinois – and especially Chicago – have a problem with ethics, demonstrating, almost on a daily basis, an inherent penchant for corruption. The recent influence peddling and profiteering scandal involving Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich demonstrates the Chicago/Illinois Democrat Machine in action.

By now, those who pay attention to the news are well aware that Illinois' governor was caught on FBI wiretaps attempting to sell President-Elect Barack Obama's vacated US Senate seat to the highest bidder. That – in and of itself – should produce a noticeable shade of embarrassment on the faces of everyone from Illinois, especially those who voted for Blagojevich.

Rod BlagojevichBut what most around the country are just now staring to realize is that those who voted for Blagojevich are not embarrassed. In fact, if they could yawn any deeper over the matter they probably would. This is because political corruption is generational in Chicago politics. Once the Chicago Machine captured power in Springfield – Illinois' capitol – the cancer that is political corruption spread from Cook County to infect the state. In fact, political corruption has become so ensconced in Illinoisans' daily lives that acts of bribery, where elected officials are concerned, are even less noteworthy than a conservative point of view in a Chicago newspaper. The people of Illinois – especially Democrats – have accepted political corruption as part of the deal. Why else would they continue to vote into office those who have enjoined in corrupt activities year after year?

To better illustrate the point you need look no further that two inactions by Illinois government: the failure of the Illinois Legislature to strip our embattled governor of the power to appoint a replacement for President-Elect Obama and the failure of the Illinois Supreme Court to declare the future cell block H resident unfit to hold office.

On Wednesday, the Illinois Supreme Court denied an effort initiated by Illinois Attorney General, Lisa Madigan, to remove Governor Blagojevich from power. They did so without comment. It could be argued that the justices didn't want hand a political victory to Madigan, herself a gubernatorial candidate for 2010 and the daughter of Illinois House Speaker and Chicago powerbroker Michael Madigan. It could also be argued that the justices had a problem with removing a sitting governor without an indictment being in place. But what is certain is that Illinois remains a state with a corrupt governor – if only in the spirit of the law – who has the power to appoint a replacement to President-Elect Obama's US Senate Seat. By its inaction, did the Illinois Supreme Court effectively serve the people of Illinois by protecting the Illinois Constitution? Or did they succumb to politics?

Then we have the Illinois House, controlled by Democrats and led by Michael Madigan – the father of our Attorney General, Lisa Madigan – that refused to strip Governor Blagojevich of his power to appoint a successor to President-Elect Obama. The House Democrats, who hold a 67-51 majority, refused to correct what Attorney General Madigan called an "unsustainable situation" because it would have established as a solution a special election to determine who would fill the vacant US Senate seat, bringing forth the possibility that – horror or horrors – a Republican might win the seat! Instead, the Democrats in the Illinois Legislature – led by Madigan – have put into motion an impeachment process, a process that could last longer than Blagojevich's term. By the Illinois Legislature's inaction, did they effectively serve the people of Illinois or the Illinois Constitution? Or did they place the importance of their political party above the people of Illinois?

These are just two examples of Illinois/Chicago politics at its best...or worst, as the case may be. But more than that, it is an example of what happens to government when the voting public becomes both apathetic to the process and susceptible to the corruption. The people of Illinois – especially the Chicago Democrats and Democrats from other quasi-urban areas – voted these people into elected office not because they did their homework and came to the conclusion that each was the best candidate for the job, they did so because they have always voted Democrat and because they have become comfortable accepting taxpayer funded entitlement otherwise explained as political bribery.

Illinois is lost to Chicago Machine style politics and as dysfunctional and arrogant as the conservative movement is there is no hope for the immediate future. The voices of good and dedicated Republican leaders are but wafting echoes in the halls of government, voices rendered unintelligible for the positioning of the political opportunists who dwell in the political cesspool that is Springfield, Illinois.

And, as you sit reading this in your home states, shaking your heads in disgust for Illinoisans' inability to salvage their sinking political ship, spy the Cheshire-like cat grins on our faces. They are there because you all voted "change" into office last November. That "change," my friends, was born of the Chicago political machine. ESR


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