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Blagojevich and the Bus Pass

Jim Ridings 16 August 2010 One Comment

How do these people get elected?

George Ryan, Rod Blagojevich, Mike Madigan, Richard Daley. And many, many more. We know all about these people. And yet we elect them. And we re-elect them.

How do these people get elected? I have been asked this question many times since my book on Len Small, Illinois’ most corrupt governor, was published last year. Whether it’s Len Small in 1920, Rod Blagojevich in 2006, or Otto Kerner, Orville Hodge, Paul Powell or any one of a thousand others in between, how is it that the worst people get into office? Are they corrupt before they take office, or does the office corrupt them?

I have been a cynic since about the age of five, and personally believe that no one gets into office without first selling their soul to the political machine. If they didn’t sell their soul, they wouldn’t get to where they are.

I have tended to let the voters off the hook. After all, the only choices they have are the crooked people placed on the ballot by the crooked political machines. What can they do?

That is, I have tended to let the voters off the hook until I heard something on a recent show. One of the talking heads was saying how Rod Blagojevich has fans outside the federal building cheering him as he comes and goes to trial. The reporter asked one of these fans why he supported Blago. She said the man pulled a bus pass out of his wallet and said this is why — he gave me free passes on the bus and train.

A touching moment, a kindly governor making sure the elderly could ride the buses and trains for free. That’s what government is supposed to be about, right?

Wrong. That is exactly what is wrong with government, the way it is operated by Blago and his kind. Free passes is only a small part of how Blago spent Illinois into bankruptcy, and how Chicago’s transportation system came close to bankruptcy by losing revenue in a scheme it never requested.

I never heard any senior citizen demand free passes. I did hear some senior citizens complain that it was charity and they never asked for it.

The bigger picture in this example is the man who supports Blago because of the free passes. This man, no doubt a good-natured individual, let the state buy his soul for a free bus pass. Because he got this free pass, he is willing to give Blago a free pass.

Blago knew this. It is how politicians get elected. Giving away something isn’t really giving away something. The politician gets something in return. He gets the man’s vote. He gets the man’s soul.

That is how the Democrat party has operated since the New Deal in the 1930s. Give away as much as possible to as many people as possible, to win them over. It has been a successful strategy for them.

They have convinced a great number of people that there is such a thing as a free lunch, and no one ever has to pay the bill. Illinois has joined California, Greece and a number of other governments on the brink of financial collapse because the bill for the free lunch is coming due.

Politicians sell their souls in return for power and millions of dollars in graft. Are citizens willing to sell their souls to the state for a free bus pass, or a bag of groceries? Should the man with the bus pass be indicted as a co-conspirator in the graft and corruption in this political system?

Both parties, particularly the Democrats, have made more and more people a part of the dependent class. And it is the government on whom they are dependent. This gives the government greater power, especially over the poor souls they now own.

This is the real meaning of politics-as-usual. And it will continue as long as people are willing to sell themselves into slavery for a free lunch or a free bus pass.


Jim Ridings is a regular columnist for the Chicago Daily Observer

One Comment »

  • Pat Hickey said:

    Jim, It is we who do the soul selling. Remember, politics is the art of the favor – that is why the Progressive always requires legislation and judicial fiat.

    Doing a solid for anyone is now a Shakman violation. This is nonsense.

    Corruption is stealing money or selling influence.

    In order to cloud public discourse, the Progressive ( a person not inclined to do anything for anyone for any reason)hectored the more gullible jouyrnalist to tweak corruption over the last forty years.

    If someone does good for someone – helps their kid find a job, gets a veterna into the Manteno facility, makes a call on someone’s behalf – that is pure and noble politics.

    When a public official steals -jail him/her.

    We need real effective politicians. We have enough policy totalitarians – bang up job they are doing.

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