If we get the government we deserve, then the people of Illinois must not be very deserving. Don't forget we've had four governors go to prison in the last 40 years -– one a decade, on average. Rod Blagojevich, whose trial on corruption charges is now in progress, is merely the latest in a long line.
Many voters are claiming they didn't vote for Blago, so they cannot be blamed. But how many Illinoisans are willing to admit voting for him -- even once, much less twice? Success, as they say, has many fathers, while failure is an orphan.
But, perhaps, we're wrong. Maybe some of the venal and undiscriminating voters who put Blago in office would fess up. Maybe they think he was a fine governor and still support him. Maybe they'd even vote for him again, if given a chance.
That's a scary possibility. But if Illinoisans persist in electing crooks and do not learn from their mistakes, then Illinois deserves to have one crooked government after another with scant hope for honest government to flourish.
Voters in the Metro East have to accept their portion of the blame for the Blago debacle. Democrats in Madison and St. Clair Counties voted overwhelmingly for Blago in 2002 and 2006, and some of the wealthiest Democrats financed his campaigns with donations totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars both times. Veteran state Rep. Jay Hoffman (D-Collinsville) was a key cog in the Blago cabal, and he alone raised $800,000 for his ethically-challenged friend and mentor.
The numbers are stark. In 2002, Blago beat Chicago Schools Chief Paul Vallas in the Democratic primary by a mere 20,000 votes statewide. But he outpolled his opponent in Madison and St. Clair Counties by almost 25,000 ballots. The Metro East handed the nomination to a Chicago operator with a tongue-twister name.
In other words, we're part to blame for Blago. Shame on us. Will we never learn? If we're ever going to have good government in Illinois, we'll first have to make ourselves more deserving.