Thursday, December 11, 2008

Our Ms. Brooks: A Cautionary Tale

The outrageous conduct of the Illinois Governor in attempting to sell the senatorial seat being vacated by President Elect Barack Obama is still filling newspapers, television screens, and blogs. Many are touting the issue as the first scandal of Obama's administration, even though he hasn't been sworn in yet, and even though by all accounts he is absolutely clear of any connection with Blagojevich's egregious conduct.

Still, Governor Blagojevich is a Democrat, and that is a bitter pill for many of us to swallow, especially after all the tsk-tsking and harumphing we've done the past eight years. Rosa Brooks has some wise advice for us in her most recent column. After detailing the utter stupidity and banality of Governor Blagojevich in her usual snarky fashion, she turns serious as she contemplates just what lessons can and indeed must be drawn from this tawdry episode.

All the same, Blagojevich's downfall should be a cautionary tale for Democrats still basking in the reflected glory of Obama's win. It's a reminder that even at this magic moment of victory and party unity -- even as the Clinton lions are lying down with the Obama lambs, and as Democratic dreams of vast infrastructure investments and a renewed commitment to international diplomacy are coming true -- powerful Democrats aren't immune to human weaknesses.

Idiocy and greed aren't just for Republicans. For every Larry Craig, there's an Eliot Spitzer; for every Ted Stevens, there's a Rod Blagojevich.

In our heads, we Democrats know that. It's just that in our hearts, we don't want to believe it. Because we're the good guys, right? The ones who honed our progressive values during years in the political wilderness and who finally saw those values vindicated in November's electoral victories.

But it's precisely when a party achieves power that its members need to start worrying the most about idiocy and greed. When you're in the opposition, you're already down and out, so what difference does it make if your side's idiocy leaves you -- temporarily -- a little bit more down and out? And being in the opposition offers fewer patronage opportunities.

But power really does corrupt. ...

Members of political majorities succumb easily to smugness and complacency, to the conviction that explaining and justifying ideas is no longer necessary, to the temptation to dismiss critics as so many irrelevant cranks. "Groupthink" is mainly a disease of the powerful and complacent, not the fractious opposition.

Never mind Blagojevich. Majorities can get very dumb indeed -- and what the new Democratic majority most needs to resist are those more subtle forms of intellectual and moral laziness and corruption. For in the end, arrogance and groupthink can prove far more lethal than even the most scandalous financial shenanigans.

Just ask the thousands dead in Iraq.

And that's where we, the citizenry have to step up and step in. We must make it clear that we will not tolerate the kind of corruption exemplified by Governor Blagojevich or any other Democrat, nor will we tolerate the arrogance of any elected official who feels comfortable enough to do as he or she sees fit without considering the needs, wants, and desires of the people who do the electing.

If it means burning up the fax and telephone lines, or even occupying the representatives' offices until they understand just who the bosses are, we should be ready and willing to do so, and we had better make that clear to those who now feel comfortable.

Otherwise, we'll have more than just Spitzer and Blagojevich, and Craig and Stevens haunting our government and undermining our democracy.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

yup, don't follow leaders and watch your parking meters....oh and watch your leaders and demand that they actually pass some humanistic legislation for a fucking change!

singe who id's as anonymous because he is too lame to know how to get registered.

5:07 PM  

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