“One of the peculiarities of the American Revolution was that its leaders pinned their hopes on the organization of decision-making units, the structuring of their incentives, and the counterbalancing of the units against one another, rather than on the more usual (and more exciting) principle of substituting "the good guys" for "the bad guys".”
Gov. Blagojevitch of Illinois has been caught with his hand in the biggest cookie jar in state politics. The FBI arrested him for pretty blatantly attempting to sell the Senate seat vacated by President-elect Obama to the highest bidder. And evidently, there were a fair number of interested customers.
It's official now, Chicago politics is corrupt. Oh whatever will this poor old world be FORCED to endure next?
There is of course, a lot of partisan back-and-forth about whether the president-elect knew about political corruption in the state he so recently represented.
I sure hope he did. I'd hate to think our new president was that dumb.
Let's get a few things clear. You cannot work in Chicago politics, heck you can't even live in Chicago, and not know it's corrupt through and through.
That is not the same thing as being personally corrupt. Obama had to know the nature of the Chicago political system to work within it. But any man as smart and ambitious as he is would keep clear of personal involvement in anything blatantly illegal, if he aspired to the highest office in the land.
Did he have contact with Blagojevitch about who was going to fill his seat?
Let's see. Would the leader of the party in power, which is within spitting distance of having a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate, be just the teensiest bit interested in who's going to get his old job?
Do I even have to answer that?
Obama would be failing in his duty to his party if he didn't try to have some say in picking his successor. That doesn't mean he was in any way involved in attempting to sell the office. That's the governor's prerogative under the current rules.
I am however, irritated my new president thinks so little of my intelligence that he doesn't think I understand this, and attempts to deny any contact with the governor.
Not long ago, Democrats swept the congressional elections, campaigning against a Republican “culture of corruption.” They were quite right.
Now Republicans are crowing about the Democratic culture of corruption. They're right too.
Why is politics so corrupt?
Could it be that when you give ordinary human beings (and believe me, I've stood next to enough politicians to know they're made of no special stuff) great power and little accountability over raising and spending trillions of dollars, they get tempted to grab some of it for themselves every now and then?
And it's not going to get any better, until we relearn what those brilliant, cynical, idealistic men who founded this country and wrote its constitution knew.
It's not about throwing bad guys out and electing good guys. It's not about expecting our elected officials to be immune to the corrupting influence of power. It's not about looking for angels to govern us.
It's about working with human nature, not against it. It's about creating the mechanisms of transparency, accountability and oversight.
It's about making the powerful live under the same rules as the rest of us.