19 February 2009

The Illinois Farce: Burris's Final Act?

Senator Burris of Illinois now finds himself in the same boat as his patron, former governor Blagojevich. Just as "Blago" could claim that he never actually demanded a quid-pro-quo or "pay to play" deal for the U.S. Senate seat vacated by the President-elect, Burris can argue that he did not attempt any fundraising for Blago in return for the seat. Chronologically speaking, that appears to be true. Burris did what he says he did before Obama was elected President. The point, of course, is that he didn't tell us about these activities when he was first nominated and begging for admission to the Senate, when people would have drawn unfavorable conclusions. The conclusions are still unfavorable, and add to those initial conclusions the fact that Burris didn't tell us the whole story the first time around. Whether it's realistic of them or not, the American people (those who care, at least) want Illinois to send a Senator to Washington who can not be said to have done anything, ever, for Rob Blagojevich. That's a hard demand when Blagojevich was the governor of the state for several years. Is there any Democrat who could pass this test? Is there anyone from the private sector who could vote reliably Democratic and never gave or raised funds for Blago? The only way to avoid the Blagojevich taint might be to recruit Burris's successor, since his resignation seems increasingly likely, from another party. On the other hand, if a special election was held, some Democrat would at least have the chance to earn the support of Illinois voters. If the Burris disaster hasn't finally convinced more people of the necessity of a constitutional amendment to abolish the arbitrary gubernatorial power of replacement, I don't know what it would take to wake up the rest of you.


Anonymous said...

They'd have to give the notion of herd mentality. Of group identification. That would have to actually start acting like individuals, rather than just talking about being an individual.

I'll guarantee if you poll 1,000 on why they are a member of a political party, a large number would say because their parents were, a large number would say as an act of rebellion against their parents who were members of the other party. A small percentage would actually say because they "believe" in the same platform the party espouses.

Samuel Wilson said...

I think that a lot of Americans are more flexible about party identification than you believe, but it's really more like an oscillation between the two major parties. There are the "Reagan Democrats," for instance, who supposedly gave up on their original party during the Carter years to vote Republican, more because of Carter than some generational issue, but who have reportedly come back to the Democrats increasingly since the 1990s. The big problem remains the American Bipolarchy, and the big problem with that remains Americans' reluctance to entrust political power to anyone who doesn't have some already.