Too many of us, when we think about politics here in Illinois, roll our eyes and throw up our hands. The system is too far gone, it seems. Corruption is endemic to the way Springfield works -- not just in the high-profile cases involving former governors, but in the everyday acts of corruption that constitute "business as usual" in our state. The favors exchanged, the influence peddled, the inside deals fixed.
The thing is, it's not enough to get angry about the price we pay because politicians in Illinois are lining their own pockets and the pockets of their friends. We need to fundamentally change the way business is conducted. The way I see it, there are three important ways to do this.
First, we have to pass serious new ethics laws for our elected leaders. We need to create a firewall between legislating and lobbying, so our lawmakers can't give sweetheart deals to companies that they, their family members and their business associates have a stake in. And lawmakers must be required to sit out votes that might benefit them financially.
We also have to restrict the polluting role of money in politics. Our campaign finance laws still give corporations, PACs and political insiders far too much influence in the process -- their money is drowning out our voices.
The simplest and most important way to change the game, though, is by firing corrupt politicians on Election Day and replacing them with honest ones. We need to prove to the insiders that their money and connections won't protect them, that they'll be held accountable for corrupt actions by an electorate that deserves better.
My opponent in the 39th District, Toni Berrios, was just called out for corruption in the New York Times: voting to support bills for which her father is a highly paid lobbyist without disclosing her conflict of interest. She has spent her life in Illinois' old-school politics, comes from an old-school political family, and is trained in the same practices that have landed too many of our governors behind bars.
That's why it's time for a change. Before running for office, I was the Associate Editor for the Huffington Post Chicago and a community advocate on a range of issues, including affordable health care for all residents, foreclosure prevention for homeowners, and better public education for Chicago youth. As a journalist, I worked to publicly expose corrupt politicians and their corporate donors. I am committed to bringing honesty back to Illinois.
So, join me. Let's embrace the simple solution, clean out the old and bring in a new, honest political future for the 39th District and for Illinois. Together, we can end our state's sad history of corruption and hold ourselves to a higher standard.
Follow Will Guzzardi on Twitter: www.twitter.com/willguzzardi