Sunday, May 30, 2010

Chicago 101: Unethical politics

I had to chuckle at the news media today since they were aghast that the White House administration may have orchestrated an ‘un-paid’ job offer to Rep. Joe Sestak. This of course was to get him to bow out of his Pennsylvania democrat primary race, against the established crony, Sen. Arlen Specter. Wow is this really news? Aren’t almost all of the President’s top advisors based out of Chicago – America’s smoke-filled schoolyard for hard-ball politics? I love the area around the windy city, but honestly the back door deals and high level corruption in that town, are about as close as Al Capone’s scar was to his cigar.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not resigned to acceptance of this unethical turn of events; it is just that I am not surprised either. In fact, not just with this White House, but for MOST of the administrations before, I am probably more surprised that these creepy crawly, political hacks don’t get caught-up in their own tangled ethics webs more often. This stuff is so common now that even at the lowest levels of political thought, it sadly goes on all of the time.

When I was a younger, bright-eyed, and idealistically bushy tailed, I ran for a city council seat in a community of roughly 300,000 people. This was an un-paid position with the exception of a small meeting stipend and a city provided cell phone and fax machine (at a time both of those machines were REALLY unique). I was one of 5 candidates who ran for the seat and one of four of them who LOST! But here is where the fun begins, I was approached on numerous occasions with ‘advice’ to drop out of the race ‘for the good of the people I wanted to represent and myself’. Now don’t worry, it was not meant to be as dramatic as I make it sound. Basically the advice was geared toward the city and other ‘favored’ candidates preserving funds so as to not necessarily spend time and cash on the likes of little ol’ flies in the ointment like me. As for the benefit to myself, it was clear that a nice ‘commission’ appointment on the city planning board was probably a good fit for my experience and ambition if I left the race early.

As you might expect, I am rather granite-headed, so I did not take the deal and stayed in the race for the long haul, but unlike Rep. Sestak, lost handily. I was not blacklisted or threatened in any way for my defiance. In fact I did go on to OPENLY accept an unpaid Commissioner job on another City board to stay involved. But the moral is clear; these pushy wannabe Kingmakers infect ALL levels of government RIGHT NOW. They are like cockroaches so moral indignation will not kill them. They don’t care what we really think of them as long as we yield our will and personal power to their destructive selfish pressures.

If we want to improve ethics, then like in war, we have to stand-up and expose these rat nests early on and work our way up the food chain. Don’t cede power to the bullies and the political ‘handlers’ who make manipulation an ARTFORM. Most of us know what is ‘right and wrong’ so do IT and INSIST that your kids, family and local political representatives behave that way as well. Expose and embarrass the cheats, liars, and untrustworthy in your workplace, community, and yes, even your own family. Won’t it be wonderful someday if conniving, self-indulgent and unethical manipulators ARE really rare news? Sadly we may have to wait awhile until Chicago’s unseemly school of politics ‘hard-freezes’ over.


  1. thanks for sharing a comment on A Few Clowns Short -
    There have been and will be clowns in politics. Our past Governor, Blogo, sure is.
    My theory or IMHO, is that politics attracts those types of people. Of course, there are exceptions.

  2. Hey, P.J. -- better not mess with Chicago politics. How do you think Capone got that scar on his face?
    But remember -- it's only the few bad politicians that make the other 10 percent LOOK bad.