Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Portraits of Broken Politics

In California, the entire system is so messed up one or two state Senators can hold the entire state budget process hostage. The fact that all the state Senate Republicans have signed pledges refusing to raise taxes - it's not just ludicrous. This is insanity. While there are many principles one can consider upholding in politics, every legislator needs to keep some perspective. With the 2/3 requirement for state budgets to pass, we have a situation where everything will grind to a halt because some people believe that principles are more important than people.

Now, in Illinois, it seems that our new Senator, Roland Burris, may not have been as candid as he could have been when he appeared before a state House impeachment panel last month. Of course, it all comes down to semantics, considering the way the question was worded. Also, one needs to remember that there probably isn't a prominent Democrat in the state untouched by the Blagojevich machine, with the possible exceptions of Sen. Richard Durbin, Pres. Obama, state Senate President Emil Jones, House Speaker Michael Madigan, and Attorney General Lisa Madigan (the Speaker's daughter). Blagojevich was nothing if not thorough (For the record, I did not vote for Blagojevich either time he ran; after doing some reading up on him before the Democratic primary, I avoided him like the plague). All that means is that we are left in the uncomfortable position of having a Senator tainted by Blago's dirt, and a huge airing of the way politics in the age of Blagojevich was done during the past six years in Illinois. The sad thing, of course, is that our dirty politics were a Democratic thing, which may just make the party toxic in most of the state. At a time when the Republicans were on the outs statewide, this is not a good thing; our alternatives are pretty thin on the ground.

These two object lessons in the brokenness of state politics should be reminders that we still have a long way to go to get this whole democracy thing right.

Virtual Tin Cup

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