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Rod Blagojevich: when the ends justify the means

It is official, Governor R Blagojevich has been convicted in the Senate despite an impassioned plea. Listening to his speech the other day, I noticed that the one theme that he kept returning to was that the ends justify the means.

He continually cited what he deemed to be work that he had done for the public good, e.g. procuring cheap prescription drugs from Canada, despite the fact that he knew that this was an illegal activity. In this instance to Blagojevich, helping the poor and the struggling was infinitely more important than following the letter of the law.

“I have done nothing wrong,” he said repeatedly in his thirty minute address. Note that he did not say that he had not performed an illegal act. His defence completely relied upon the listener to judge from a position of morality, rather than legality.

Many breathe a sigh of relief now that he is the former Governor. He has been deemed an embarrassment and therefore did not receive a single vote in his favour. Instead of appearing at his trial, Blagojevich spent the week making the rounds on talk shows and various networks. From the very beginning, he asserted that he would not receive a fair trial and that the outcome had already been decided. It is my belief that his outreach was an attempt to sway public opinion in his favour and by so doing, leave a legacy whereby he was perceived as a victim of political manoeuvring rather than a criminal.

Every time Blagojevich shows up on my television screen, I cannot help but to compare him to a used vacuum cleaner salesman. He reeks of a man waiting to pull a scam; however, I should point out that this feeling is elicited from me by most politicians. As I watched the vote that would end his political career, I could not help but think about how self righteous politics is to begin with.

As Republicans were busy impeaching Clinton for his liaison with Monica Lewinsky, I wondered how many of them were guilty of the same sort of behaviour. Whether it is a sexual indiscretion or some form of impropriety having to do with money; politicians are not guilt-free. I find it interesting that no reporter bothered to comment on the general lack of moral fibre amongst those that have been duly elected to lead.

I could not celebrate with others at Blagojevich’s impeachment. Some may see this as just one less corrupt politician running the world but I wonder how many are still left in seats of power that should not be left in charge a stick of gum.

Though pundits would like to turn Blagojevich into an anomaly, in actuality the very system in and of itself is corrupt. Since the Obama election we have heard repeatedly that if you work hard, you can pull yourself up, but the truth of the matter is that people who end up in positions of social power often do not come from poverty. Very few are able to achieve success in life unless they were born into one form of privilege. Often class at birth is the marker that serves to determine the degree of success that one is able to achieve in life.

Wealth continually defers to wealth. One does not begin life as the son of a blue collar worker and end up a Governor or a Senator. When we look at the family legacy names in government from Bush to Kennedy, wealth and bloodline serve as a path to power. If Blagojevich is corrupt, it is because the system of which he is a part of is corrupt.

It is not possible to have a system that continually privileges certain bodies and not have some form of corruption. While some express horror at Blagojevich’s actions, I suspect that we are more upset that he got caught, than by what he actually did.

This is not 1960 and the blind belief that politicians are truly out to serve the public good is no longer a part of our social lie. We train them to be snake oil salesmen, telling us lies to get elected with the full knowledge that they are going to have to pander to special interest groups. Everyone wants their piece of the pie. Why anyone would be surprised by this is beyond me.

When we decided to live in a soulless capitalist system, we agreed that the needs of the individual outweighed the needs of the community. To expect a politician to put on a halo simply because a large group of people checked her or his name on a ballot is ridiculous.

Our problem is that we want the plausible deniability. We don’t want to see the little man pulling the strings behind the curtain, so that we can pretend that there is a hope of rising above the station to which we were born. Power is an aphrodisiac and in a system that is based upon oppressing the weak to progress, Blagojevich’s actions followed the natural course of events. No politician is a modern-day Robin Hood. It would be against their class interest to be one, and as we all know, only the poor are foolish enough to continually support a corrupt system that would rather crush them than lend them a helping hand.

Blagojevich is probably guilty, but I suspect the real crime for which he was impeached was not attempting to sell President Obamas senate seat, but for the indiscretion of being caught with his hand in the cookie jar. We enjoy our falsehoods; we just don’t want them to be so visible.

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