The body politic was rocked by Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich's arrest yesterday. U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald described Blagojevich's activities as a "public crime spree." The wiretap transcripts are damning indeed. They reveal not only corruption but delusions of grandeur. By now you all know that the most serious allegation is Blagojevich's willful attempt to profit from appointing Barack Obama's successor to the U.S. Senate.
You will be hearing and reading all kinds of speculation with respect to Blagojevich in the coming days. This speculation will include which Illinois political figures engaged Blagojevich and his staff in a "pay to play" scheme for power. Although President-Elect Obama was not accussed of any wrong doing, his rise in the sesspool of Illinois corruption will certainly receive reknewed scrutiny.
My immediate reaction to the scandal is that it validates the cynicism of people who don't vote. As an activist the one sentiment that perturbs me the most is cynical apathy. This irks me far more than encountering citizens with a different or more conservative world view than my own. Even during this political season of heightened interest I encountered many people who regard voting as waste of time "because they're all crooks." Rod Blagojevich epitomizes that classic stereotype of politicians.
At least Blagojevich's corrupt predecessor, George Ryan, did something positive for human rights by putting a moratorium on the death penalty in his state. Alas, Blagojevich has proven to be a waste of skin. Hopefully, he will be compelled to resign forthwith. Most likely though Blagojevich will pitifully hang onto power and paralyze Illinois state government during the most perilous economic crisis since the 1930s.