Yesterday another Illinois politician faced a jury and lost. This time the guilty party was a Cook County commissioner and former Chicago alderman convicted on tax charges. We went through this last month, when Illinois Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. pleaded guilty to misusing campaign funds. A few weeks before that ex-Illinois governor George Ryan got out of prison as his successor approached his one year anniversary in the big house. With the list of corrupt politicians getting longer and no end in sight, Illinois owes public servants across the nation an apology for the one thing the Land of Lincoln does really well. Illinois manages to make politicians look even worse than they are.
Illinois should apologize to the nation for giving government and everyone who works in it a bad name. From governors to the lowliest small town clerk, the guilty have infested every level of government in Illinois. Even the horror stories about the abuses in Bell, California fail to make an impression here. Give us five Bells. Illinois will prove it is up to the task and has no equal.
Few Americans are feeling very sympathetic towards politicians these days. There will be no apology coming from Illinois, no matter how bad we make them look. In sympathy for ethical politicians, assuming there are some, and anyone else whose occupation has been shamed by what goes on here, I want to apologize on behalf of my state. Here goes:
I am sorry that Illinois’ corrupt politicians make our public servants look bad.
Much as it shames me to live here, I have to admit there is a perverse fascination with watching things deteriorate long after you thought you’d seen everything. There is no stereotype, no caricature of political corruption or abuse of public money that can compete with what goes on in Illinois. Governors winding up in the clutches of the penal system are passé. It takes a personality like Rod Blagojevich, who took his act to the national talk show circuit, to entice us into paying the slightest attention.
Not all politicians are corrupt, at least not all politicians in states other than Illinois. If my state gives the impression that every elected official is a crook, I am sorry.
And on behalf of Democrats who have been shamed by my state:
I apologize for Illinois making the Democratic Party look worse than it is.
Washington has given Democrats a bad name but Illinois has turned them into taxpayer-devouring monsters.
Anyone who complains about Democrats on Capitol Hill ruining our economy doesn’t have the slightest idea what they are talking about. Come to Illinois. When Washington passes a state bankruptcy law my state will be one of the reasons (see: Live in Illinois? Get Out Now). On some level we should probably give Springfield Democrats some credit despite the train wreck they have created. No matter how bad things get they are absolutely fearless. Most of us would be dangling from a rafter in our garage if our finances were as grim as they are here. No such gloom and doom from the party that rules Illinois. There is no financial hole so deep that we can’t find a way to dig it a little deeper, no credit downgrade that fazes us, no pile of unpaid bills so high that we can’t add a few more.
One more quick one for public employee unions:
I apologize to public employee unions and their members. If my state makes you look like money-grubbers who don’t care about anything but padding your bank accounts and funding lavish retirements on the public dime, I am profoundly sorry.