Legacy empowerment in American politics

Rod Blagojevich, America’s newest political bad boy, now subject of impeachment by Illinois’ lawmakers intent on vanquishing him from the governor’s post, is an overt and crude example of how politics function in this nation. Overt this time, in the tradition of dirty, in your face, defiant politics that have forever, it seems, accosted Illinois, and more specifically, Chicago.

Chicago’s culture of corruption has run in parallel lines with Mafiosi (…who hasn’t heard of Al Capone), political machines (Daly family’s old and new machines) and rampant, no-apologies-offered bribery by the two parties’ apparatchiks.

Perhaps the best known incident is one which places Chicago at the epicenter of the 1960 presidential election fraud, something popularly accepted as an indisputable fact. Such claimed fraud proved to be instrumental in placing a likable John Kennedy in the White House instead of a far less glittery Richard Nixon who, like Al Gore 40 years later, decided not to challenge such possible fraudulent vote, accepting political martyrdom for the proverbial common good… in philosophical, ethical and political terms. “For the good of the nation,” in the lexicon of patriotism!

But if Blagojevich’s crude shenanigans offering Obama’s soon to be vacated senate seat for sale to the highest bidder is touted by the media, and outraged citizens, as politically and morally abhorrent, any such sentiment runs the gamut, from hypocritical to naïve. Almost all seats in Congress, whether in the House or the Senate, are really “purchased” via quid pro quo currency dispensed by lobbyists who represent special interests that most often are at odds with bona fide public interest. Democrats as well as Republicans prove to be equal-opportunity suckers of the nation’s good ole mammary politics; and only a handful among this 535-member select group, multi-millionaires all, use at times their own financial resources to get elected; at least the first time around, until the money-teat (campaign contributions) becomes available at time of reelection.

This ascent to power – being elected to Congress – might be said to follow a covert, unwritten catechism, “instructional understanding” how voting on different issues should occur so that a quid pro quo is established, and transactions that keep America docile and under control are properly made. End result: politicians get reelected and special interest groups get their required legislation. Can there be better proof of this quid pro quo than the reelection rate during the past 42 years, which shows an 83 percent for senators and a 93 percent for representatives; what could also be described as feasting by two hyenas, one dressed as a donkey and the other masked as an elephant?

As if the prospect of a federal legislature – where the seats are held if not for life at least for a lengthy, pensioned political career – weren’t enough, we face a constant dynastic empowerment of families to control politics; and just as legacy spoils rule the day when it comes to top institutions of higher learning or the military academies… legacy also rules in American politics. Can anyone fathom George W. Bush attending Yale on his own merits? …Or John McCain attending Annapolis without the pedigree of father and grandfather as admirals? …Or Caroline Kennedy aspiring to take Hillary Clinton’s senate seat if her childhood had not been spent in Camelot, and those iconic pictures of her seating on John F. Kennedy’s lap?

For all the self-deprecation we invite and exchange among ourselves, we find a form of redemption by criticizing how the media feeds the public nonstop idiocies about the rich and worthless, a Paris Hilton or a Donald Trump; or the myriad other celebrities who ultimately have the last laugh on the rest of us: the un-wealthy and ignorant.

Part of our democratic claim to fame, pride in our republic, has to do with that historical distancing we have taken from those monarchical ways repudiated by our ancestors as they came to this land. Yet, we appear to have reneged from those republican ideals, and have come to be more papist than the pope. Our shameful admiration of America’s own nobility, descendants in many cases of thieves and criminals turned philanthropists, has totally eclipsed any royal remnants existing in Europe by way of useless, ridiculous constitutional monarchies. We, in America, have incubated a new form of monarchy.

One hope that Barack Obama is not tempted to add his family name to that of the Bushes, Clintons, Kennedy’s and many other bluebloods. The nation is in need of leadership… but coming from the bottom, not from the top. When I hear about one of these bluebloods offering to serve her/his country, my blood boils… yelling to the top of my lungs: Haven’t you already done enough damage to this country? Let the common people run their affairs… your service is not welcome, definitely not at the ruling stage.