A Sad Day in Illinois

Blago.jpgRod Blagojevich, who rode a wave of replacing George Ryan (now in prison) to clean things up in Illinois, received a phone call at daybreak informing him of a warrant for his arrest. US Attorney, Patrick Fitzgerald, informed the public later of the charges — basically using power for bribery in order to secure a position for himself and a bigger income for his wife. He put a dollar sign on the person who was to replace Obama in the Senate.

The sadness for us Illinoisans is that this arrest means that we could well have two former governors in prison.

How do people with this sort of character rise so high in our political system?

About Scot McKnight

Scot McKnight is a recognized authority on the New Testament, early Christianity, and the historical Jesus. McKnight, author of more than forty books, is the Professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary in Lombard, IL.

  • Rick

    “How do people with this sort of character rise so high in our political system?”
    Part of the problem is with the Chicago/Illinois political system itself.
    It is a culture of corruption (apparently in the state’s history 3 former governors have served time).
    It is expected, and accepted there.
    From the MSNBC story:
    “Blagojevich also is no neophyte. He was baptized in the nitty gritty of Chicago Machine politics and confirmed in back-room bargaining and big money deals. He spent years climbing the ladder, first as a state representative, then a congressman and finally governor. He was boosted to power by his father-in-law, Alderman Dick Mell, a veteran Democratic ward boss and longtime stalwart of the once mighty Machine.”

  • Duane

    I guess my take on this is a bit different than most. I think this puts Illinois ahead of the curve on cleaning things up and perhaps in the vanguard of “real change.” The recent history is important—when the Republican leadership on Illinois set out to punish and destroy the U.S. Senator Peter Fitzgerald for refusing to play along and go along with “play as you pay,” etc., the Senator, very consciously, recommended Patrick Fitzgerald, a tough and single minded prosecutor from New York as U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, knowing full well what would happen. The rest is history or about to become history. Many other states and large cities have yet to experience the purge! It may come. The point is that Illinois is not that unique—just more exposed.

  • Rick

    Also from MSNBC regarding the culture just since 1972 (not to mention prior):
    The corrupt culture’s “persistence was documented in Sept. 7, 2006 by the Chicago Sun-Times, which reported that at least 79 current or former Illinois, Chicago or Cook County elected officials had been found guilty of a crime by judges, juries or their own pleas since 1972. The paper provided this tally of the tarnished: three governors, two other state officials, 15 state legislators, two congressmen, one mayor, three other city officials, 27 aldermen, 19 Cook County judges and seven other Cook County officials.”
    Duane- you are right, Illinois is not alone; but nor is it common. It may be more exposed because it is somewhat unique.

  • http://www.theparablelife.blogspot.com Michelle Van Loon

    Prosecutors have to build such big, airtight cases (as they should) in order to make an arrest – which tells me that there are dozens and dozens of lesser pols who are still getting away with it, whatever “it” happens to be for them. Corruption is woven into the system here in foundational ways, it seems. And it is sad, sad, sad.
    What’s going on in the darkness, may God continue to bring to light here in IL.

  • Thom

    Unfortunately I beleive our system only allows for people of this kind of character. The system is so corrupt that if you are not corrupt you would not be allowed to rise this high. If you rise this high or higher then you are corrupt.

  • http://www.fillmeuplord.blogspot.com Tchr

    Actually, we have had 5 governors here in IL in jail. Let’s remember to pray for the innocent victims: the governor’s 2 daughters.

  • Robert Angison

    Perhaps we, as a nation, have forgotten the chief rule in dealing with politicians: don’t trust them
    I recall a (near) ancient proverb:
    “How do you know when a politician is lying? When their mouth is moving.”
    That we trust these people who will do anything and everything for power and money is deeply troubling. Our system was created, by the founders of our government, with the knowledge that we can’t trust those in power. We would do well to remember that.
    You are the church!
    R.A.

  • http://www.wisecounsel.wordpress.com Phil Monroe

    I would wish that the Governor was of a different character than myself. But sadly, I don’t think he is. Leaders christian or not tend to get further from the people and more likely to believe their own press clippings. Self-deceit takes over and one gets to outlandish places they would never have imagined themselves at years before.
    Power encourages these kinds of behaviors.
    In Philly, We have a State Senator on trial for these same kind of things. Sad, but no longer shocking. Because we, without humility of Christ, would do the same.

  • http://transformingseminarian.blogspot.com/2008/12/blagojevich-scandal-and-mr-smith-goes.html Mark Baker-Wright

    I was musing on this news today, too (link above). It got me thinking of the classic movie Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. If nothing else, corruption in government certainly isn’t anything new, but I’m not really equipped to explain why Illinois has a particular reputation.

  • Scott Eaton

    Scot, you asked, “How do people with this sort of character rise so high in our political system?”
    Ambition. In the eyes of the older saints ambition was considered a sin. Now we consider it a virtue. Perhaps we need to stop looking to the most ambitious among us and start looking to those who actually serve us best. Maybe we need to look for the reluctant and promote them to office because of what they have done, not for what they have ambition to do.

  • http://www.thegocenter.com/edwards Tim

    It is sad, especially as one who grew up in Illinois. The nice thing about it is that it is recognized and dealt with, unlike politics in Thailand (where we currently live). Here it would only be dealt with if he angered someone farther up the food chain…

  • http://mattandryan.wordpress.com ryan

    I think Rick is right. These men are part of a culture and products of a culture. Corruption is the pool they grow in and swim in.
    I also find it interesting that cities and states that are most viewed as the most corrupt also seem to have the highest taxes. Last time I checked Chicago has the distinguished honor of having the highest sales tax in the nation at 10%. It just goes to show that poorly run governments need more and more funding since there are more and more people who have to get taken care of as part of the process.

  • sheryl

    Mark Baker-Wright
    December 10, 2008 11:38 AM
    I watched that movie FOR THE FIRST TIME last week and was astounded they made it in 1939!!! Nothing new under the sun.
    I admire the courage of Patrick Fitzgerald as he wades into the muddy waters of Chicago politics. May God protect him. I also find it amusing how these Chicago politicians are acting surprised today at Blagojevich’s actions, as if they are so innocent themselves. Yeah, I’m cynical. But they give me good reason to be.

  • http://www.soulsticecommunity.com Soulstice Community Church

    Lately I have wondered if there is any politician out there who wouldn’t be locked up for a considerable amount of time if we knew the dirt on them as well. Is this guy actually THAT bad, or did he just get caught?

  • qb

    Soulstice (14), are you being facetious in your concluding question?
    qb


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