Blago and Beyond
This was an article and an interview with the Libertarian Party of Illinois concerning Blago. This was published in Now Public.
During the last week of January 2009, Rod Blagojevich fought for his political survival as the Illinois Senate impeached him. Blago [his nick name] presented his case to the world but not in the Illinois Senate until the last minute.
My attempts to talk with Mr. Blagojevich and Ms. Radogno [one of the Illinois Senators involved in the impeachment proceedings] were unsuccessful. Kent Mc Millen who is the Public Relations Chair for the Libertarian Party of Illinois was gracious enough to take time from his busy schedule to talk Blago, Illinois, and beyond.
In the process, we have become enlightened with this conversation. The following was done in E Mail format:
1. Why was Blagojevich removed as governor?
Rod Blagojevich was removed for several reasons. First and most obvious is that he was caught on tape saying things and making deals that voters should and did find to be disturbing – even for voters in Illinois and Chicago that are used to an outrageous amount of corruption, “Pay to Play” government deals, and just downright underhanded dealings. Less obvious is that the former governor has angered even those colleagues that normally would have stuck by him and covered for him. This started well before the events that resulted in his removal – as far back as the feud between Blagojevich and Dick Mell – a Chicago “Machine” politician and the former governor’s father in law. He lost the support of the people who were protecting him and one of them tipped off the authorities – who in turn started surveillance of him and caught him making dirty political deals on tape.
2. Was Blagojevich the cause of, a part of, a continuation of the problem,
or all of the above? What is the reason behind this answer?
Blagojevich was a major part of and a continuation of the “Business as usual” state of politics in Illinois. One need only review the histories of several past Illinois governors – most recently George Ryan, who is currently serving a prison term for offenses committed while serving as Illinois Governor – to see that corruption at the highest level of Illinois government is nothing new. It’s also important to note that Rod Blagojevich is not the only crooked politician in Illinois, and certainly not the last – not unless the citizens of our state pay attention and demand the removal of other politicians that abuse the power of their offices.
3. The vote against Blagojevich was 59 in favour of removal and 0 against. Is this a reflection of his popularity in government or in the state as a whole?
Though this may reflect Blagojevich’s incredibly low popularity among the state senators, it could also be because the belief Blagojevich is crooked is so established that even those senators that feel more evidence is needed to prove his wrongdoing are afraid to go on record as saying so. It’s clear that even Blogojevich’s friends in the state senate have abandoned him rather than go on record supporting him.
4. Did Blagojevich commit any violations of human or civil rights against
Libertarians and other parties during the Gubernatorial Elections of 2006? Did those who remove Blagojevich commit the same violations of human or civil rights?
Though Blagojevich probably did not commit any specific offenses against Libertarians or other parties, by allowing grossly unfair and unconstitutional ballot access laws to stand after he was elected, he failed to use his executive power to do the right thing. The politicians who removed him are the same ones who are maintaining this unfair system and have also failed the citizens of Illinois.
5. It appears that Illinois has been through a lot with the Republicans and
Democrats destroying the confidence bestowed on them by the people of the Land of Lincoln. What can the Libertarian Party of Illinois offer as an alternative to the tired Governing Elite in your state?
Libertarians don’t claim to be more honest or trustworthy or “better” than anybody else – we’re all human and suffer from human temptations and frailties. However, only Libertarians want to reduce the amount of power wielded by politicians. This would remove the temptation to misuse power and even much of the ability to misuse it. Libertarians not only want to return all power not specifically granted to the government by the Illinois constitution to individuals, but are also champions of government transparency. We want it to be very obvious to the voter and taxpayer what money is being spent, for what, and who is receiving it. Libertarians offer smaller, less-expensive and less-intrusive government at all levels, as well as more individual freedom. We also want people to accept the personal responsibility that comes with this freedom.
By the way – the official motto of Illinois is “The Prairie State” – not the land of Lincoln. Libertarians feel that Lincoln did much to harm states’ rights and contributed to the growth and tyranny of the federal government.
6. Why should there be direct elections instead of a gubernatorial
appointment when a Senate Seat [or any seat for that matter] is vacant?
Though most Illinois voters probably would not have a problem with the governor exercising his authority to fill an empty senate seat, in the case of Blagojevich, his motives to extract personal gain from his choice of replacement senators was so obvious that any choice he made would be suspect. “Tainted” as the news media so correctly pointed out.
7. What can Illinois, America, and the rest of the world learn from what has happened to Blagojevich and Illinois?
Though Illinois may seem to be an extreme case, every other state in the union, the country at large, and citizens of every country should be aware that power corrupts. This is inevitable. Though there is no better form of government for a free people, freedom DEMANDS that citizens remain vigilant. Even when the very best people are elected to office, the voters must not consider their job finished. The people must watch their government and their elected official closely. Be involved in their government. Participate actively and not abdicate their duty to govern themselves. After all, we are a “Government OF the people, BY the people, and FOR the people.” Keeping government honest is OUR responsibility.
I would like to thank Kent Mc Millen and the Libertarian Party of Illinois for this Now Public Exclusive Interview. My best wishes to the people who read Now Public and work for it. Thank you for allowing this exclusive interview. For Now Public, Roberto Alvarez-Galloso reporting.