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John Wellington Ennis

John Wellington Ennis

Posted: December 10, 2008 12:31 PM

Bravo, Blago! A Primer in Pay to Play


Bravo, Blagojevich! Amidst the awe-inspiring legacy of corruption you will leave behind (which takes a lot coming out of my hometown Chicago), you had the integrity and foresight to neatly distance "That One" from your middle-school mentality shakedowns.

President-Elect "Motherfucker," as you so fondly referred to him on federal wires, stands clearly out of the loop of your own pompous power grab. Your "fuck him" disdain for this historical politician who ascended from your home state not only keeps Obama the good guy, but your drooling over the Senate seat he left behind makes you look far less the leader of the Land of Lincoln, and more like a spoiled rich kid who inherited a prestigious family heirloom and ran to put it on Craigslist.

I am sorry you felt "stuck" as Governor of my home state, a job you rolled into fairly easily considering the outgoing Republican Gov. Ryan was going to jail for 6 years for corruption charges, and your Republican challenger to succeed him happened to also have the last name Ryan. (You just might be able to have too many Irish in politics after all.) Throw in your Polish-sounding last name to an electorate in Chicago where there are more Polish people than in Warsaw, and you, sir, just drew the lucky bingo card into Springfield.

So it might have been annoying to you that your name was despised by most Illinois Democrats so quickly, as you freely helped yourself to what was rightly yours as far as power, respect, deference, ass-kissing, money, favors, the like. So what if it was reported your own father-in-law wouldn't allow you in his home after you used him in your climb to the top?

Meanwhile, that pesky do-gooder Senator South Side, everybody loved him, they were already speculating about him "someday" as a presidential candidate. Everybody knows Governors have better odds at the White House, and you'd have to wait and plot your chance to 2016 for that gimme.

Beyond Blago's blindingly brilliant gift of that precious "plausible deniability" that Republican White Houses have shred countless careers for (paging Patrick Fitzgerald, care to comment?), he has further provided a simpleton's primer in The Way of Pay to Play.

One party rule (any party) breeds corruption like a big pile of fresh manure draws flies. Power unhampered, egos unchecked, oversight uncool -- nobody wants to make waves and invite retribution from the only authority there is. And the non-empowered political and business leaders, as well as their electorate, they have to accept it and work with the system.

Two party politics proliferates Pay to Play. Without public financing of elections, only two (2) political parties get to make the rules for potential backers. And this happens in any state, at any level. While party-specific patterns emerge over corruption between Democrats and Republicans -- Democrats tend to go down over shameless shakedowns and sorry sex scandals, while Republicans go down over big-time cash crimes and gay sex scandals -- these are two flavors of the same canned goods.

And when one party just temporarily looks slightly better than the other, it empowers that popular choice to make all the rules. Until hubris hits them hard, and then suddenly the eager business interests dart in the other direction like a school of fish. Over the years, in places like Illinois, Ohio, Washington D.C., it becomes a nauseous cycle of back and forth.

As an Obama staffer just wrote here on HuffPo, this new President is for everyone, not just you Progressives. We'll see if politics as usual breeds business as usual, or if our new leader can lead us all above petulant indulgence.

But we don't have to wait for that. We must get involved in our own local races, we have to take control of how our elections are funded, and we have to not let oafs like Rod Blagojevich believe they are the rule makers, when they are actually inheritors of the rules.

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