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Derrick K. Baker Headshot

One Man's Vote, One Man's Elected Pain

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With the obvious exception of history-making President Barack Obama -- my fellow Leo with the camouflaged, ginormous ego -- the list of elected officials who receive my unconditional gratitude and moderated deference for their commitment to public service is as long as a bolt of lightning is short.

To say this registered voter is sick and tired of being sick and tired of news reports of one corrupted, compromised public official after another being caught with his hand in the public's cookie jar or caught with his pants down is the understatement of the year.

Whether it's the so-called "pay to play" politics in my home state of Illinois that led to the conviction of the last Republican governor and the impeachment and indictment of our latest Democratic governor, who often looked as uncomfortable in public as the current president looks comfortable, the number of reasons that would prompt me to freely make a campaign donation to a candidate or knock on doors on his or her behalf can be counted on one hand -- and you'd still have enough fingers left to snap to your favorite song.

I didn't come to this now-settled conclusion alone and without any justification. I didn't dig the ditch of diminished credibility that fits municipal officials, state representatives and federal officials. They blindly -- and sometimes defiantly -- dug their own grave and pushed me into it. As the famous saying goes, when a person shows you who they are, believe them.

And voters have seen over and over again in stark examples the caliber of far too many so-called selfless people who desire to work on behalf of the public, to represent the little guy, to fight government rules and regulations that are counterproductive and counterintuitive in order to make their small town or big city or industrious state a better place for their constituents to live, work and play.

Bullcrap. Nonsense. Psychobabble.

The unmitigated cynicism and skepticism that defines my hardened attitude toward this lot -- and I readily acknowledge that it's highly unfortunate that elected officials as a whole are being stereotyped and branded with this same wide brush of contempt -- is deserved. The list of missteps, lies, deceive, graft, collusion, sexual hijinks and outright theft from the public till is too long to spell out.

Moreover, as a voter and writer, a large part of my psyche almost refuses to devote any more keystrokes and column inches to detailing tales of elected officials who are now incarcerated or voted out of office for violating the public's trust and breaking laws.

I've come to conclude that akin to the God complex that suits many law enforcement types from the CIA and FBI down to the gun-less rent-a-cop who "guards" kiosks in the mall, there also is a certain gene that is part and parcel of how people who aspire to public office are wired.

As a group (and of course there are exceptions, lest our political system would've long ago devolved into a cesspool that resembles, well, our current political system), elected officials are fueled in parts by adulation, power and influence, respect, being in the know and on the move. They get high from the fact that they can get people to gravitate to them to the point that Jane Homemaker will write a check to an account with the official's name on it, and encourage her family, friends, colleagues and strangers to do the same.

And the list goes on. But I'm too exasperated to continue.

I've never run for public office and never will because I couldn't stand the background check. Period. And although there have been candidates whose backgrounds make mine look like saint-like, convictions for other crimes hasn't stopped more than a few from jockeying to have their name placed on a ballot in hopes that they win their shot at the throne.

In closing, I want to apologize to all elected officials, starting with those in my home State of Corruption, I mean Illinois, I've disrespected and who may feel minimized and belittled by my outburst of anger. For those of you doing a fine job and who are so validated year after year by the voters, I say congratulations. Keep your constituents first and diminish your need to travel to a Caribbean island on the public's dime for a fact-finding mission.

To the Illinois legislators whom the Chicago Tribune is reporting "now are laboring under increased scrutiny" and who "are starting to at least talk about pulling back on their perks," keep laboring and keep talking.

It's a good thing for you the one-man, one-vote principle doesn't actually mean I'm the only guy who gets to vote.