From Sea to Shining Sea - Government Corruption in America
by Adam Lang
December 10, 2008
I grew up in Plainfield, Il. At the time it was a sleepy little town south of Chicago surrounded by corn fields. I have also lived the last ten years in the Philadelphia metro. This year it has pained me to see the land where I grew up and the land where I choose to live being at the front of the news for government corruption.
In Illinois we have the recent arrest of Gov. Blagojevic for widespread corruption - with the top off of trying to sell a Senate seat. It says a lot when people familiar with the Illinois/Chicago political scene go "Wow!".
On the home front, residents of Philadelphia and Pennsylvania have been bombarded with news about State Sen. Vince Fumo and Bonusgate.
Fumo is currently on trial for a 139 count indictment. Charges range from using tax payer money to spy on girlfriends to running a personal farm with state employees. Fumo, a millionaire, was quoted as living
by the mantra of "spending Other People's money".
Bonusgate is an on going investigation that has recently indicted several legislators and public officials in spending taxpayer money to run political campaigns and opposition research.
Of course this is just the news this year. Previous years of newspapers will show other government corruption scandals with other faces as well in both states.
I would like to think I am just unfortunate in the locations I have lived. Sadly, this is not the case.
Rep. Rangel in New York is being investigated. Detroit's Mayor Kilpatrick had to resign. We even go out to the American frontier and have Alaska's Sen. Stevens who was found guilty of several counts of ethics violations.
Government corruption is not a local problem and it is not a party based problem. It is a problem infecting many aspects of government from coast to coast and too few citizens are taking it seriously enough.
Blagojevic was on his second term. Stevens almost won reelection even though he was found guilty a week before the election. The head of the Pa. Democratic House Caucus, that so far has had the Bonsugate indictments, actually won re-election on a campaign of reform!
Personally, I see two problems with the growth of corruption. First, we frequently see politicians under "multi-year" investigations; sometimes even spanning election cycles. Second, voters tend to be too willing to vote for a party candidate before clean government.
The first situation can be fixed through policy and encourage the FBI and prosecutors to pull the trigger sooner on indictments. As in the case of Blagojevic, we can't have someone under investigation for five years and getting re-elected. They are causing irreparable harm while
being watched. It may be time to put the fear of jay walking into politicians.
The second situation is harder. At what point do tens of thousands, if not millions, of people finally say enough is enough and vote against incumbents and party (this goes for Ds AND Rs)? Ideally the best solution is for voters to vote out the rats when we know they are rats, but it isn't happening.
When it comes down to it, the corruption in government is growing because we allow it to happen and we too easily forgive fellow party members that do not speak out against it. (Damn the Reagan Commandment of “Thou shalt not speak ill of any fellow Republican” - if they are crooks, call them out as crooks.)
We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, need to take back our government and put honesty and ethics at the forefront, regardless of party politics.