INK BLAST | POLITICAL UNTOUCHABLES
By Juleyka Lantigua
Chicago is the birthplace of the mythical Hollywood “untouchables,” corrupt and villainous men who existed beyond the reach of the law, who made vast fortunes and devastated countless lives. That was all supposed to be just a movie plot, but it seems that political life imitates art in Chicago.
The wind-swept city holds the embarrassing honor of ranking as one of the most politically corrupt in the country. Mayors, governors, state politicians and their peons, have walked a straight line into a prison cell following their time in office.
So it’s fitting, almost cinematic, that Chicago has assumed a starring role in what promises to be a sweeping national drama centered on the corrupt practices of a megalomaniacal governor and scores of dangerously ambitious politicians. The domino effect that promises to follow will leave a cadre of dishonored public servants and an irrevocably tainted public trust.
But the lesson here is not that absolute power corrupts absolutely, but rather that widespread apathy and complacency are the handy accomplice to the corruption. Many people in Chicago did no seem surprised, even moved, by the unfolding 76-page complaint against a governor who believed himself a political untouchable. Instead, anyone with a microphone in front of them, reminded the rest of us that Chicago has always been rotten to the core. They even taught us the clever names they use, like “pay-for-play” and “pinstripe partisanship.”
And therein lies the problem.
It is antithetical to a democracy to have a population—be it a town, city, state or country—that accepts widespread corruption as a way of life. It is deplorable that, instead of striving for real change, elected officials simply figure out how to work the system to reap maximum benefits. But it is even more egregious that the citizenry stand by and watch it all happen, almost nodding with ascent because they knew it was eventually going to happen.
Now the soon-to-be-former governor has been transformed into a different type of political untouchable: the kind whose toxic stench radiates for miles out, razing careers, corroding the pubic trust, and poisoning everything he touches.
When he stands before a judge, the entire city and state will stand in spirit behind him as co-defendants in his narcissistic and vile chapter of political theater.
"Juleyka Lantigua is a journalist and editor whose work appears in national newspapers and magazines. For more info visit: www.juleykalantigua.com."