Thursday, January 29, 2009
(Above image is a screen print from the Chicago Tribune website.)
In an expected yet heavily anticipated vote, the Illinois Senate unanimously removed former Governor Rod Blagojevich by a vote of 59-0. Another 59-0 vote was passed to ban Blagojevich from ever holding elected office again. The new Illinois governor, Patrick Quinn, has taken the oath of office administered by Illinois Supreme Court Justice Anne Burke. He was the former Lieutenant Governor and is now the 41st Governor of Illinois.
To people following this story, it is a sad ending for an elected official who could have been a shining example of the American Dream. In a way, his rise to power is similar to that of Barack Obama; both men coming from non privileged families and working hard to achieve what they both had. Blagojevich parents are immigrants from Serbia who moved to Chicago after World War II. The young Rod Blagojevich spent a lot of time during his childhood working odd jobs to help his family pay bills. He shined shoes, delivered pizzas, worked at a meat packing plant and washed dishes to support his university costs.
He got his law degree from Pepperdine University, married the daughter of an influential Illinois alderman, and took the job of assistant prosecutor of Cook County. He won a seat in the Illinois House of Representatives in 1992 and served for 10 years as a legislator. He was elected governor in 2002 and won a re-election in 2006; on both elections, he ran on the platform of reforming a historically corrupt Illinois capital. In December 2008, he was arrested on federal corruption charges. While he has been a well publicized target of federal investigations for years, he was caught on tape discussing a way to profit from the vacated Senate post of President-elect Barack Obama. He was impeached by the Illinois House of Representatives earlier this month, and today, he was removed from his post due to corruption and misconduct in office charges.
Looking back at where he came from and how far he has reached, this blogger wonders what made Blagojevich do what he did. Is it lust for power? Is it greed for money? Maybe a combination of both? Was he so blinded that he never actually thought he would be caught? My limited mind has a theory – this man was not corrupted immediately. He learned it somewhere. It started small, and then got bigger and bigger. He got away with small things, and was soon able to get away with bigger things. It all had to end though, and it ended in the worst possible way. I’m amazed at how the governor can appear publicly and deny any kind of wrongdoing. Incredibly despicable!
In western countries, and in some Asian countries like South Korea, corrupt men can actually be caught and brought to justice. I look forward to the day that the Philippines can do the same as well. Right now, the system of checks and balances in the Philippines is not as solid as it should to get the intended results. I’ve heard that gubernatorial candidates spend millions of money campaigning for a post that offers a salary of less than P60,000 a month. Do the math – are Philippine gubernatorial candidates running for office at such a great personal loss? Definitely not! The sad thing is that people vote for them anyway. When I think about these things, I arrive at the conclusion that majority of Filipinos are either stupid, or they are not educated / informed. I believe it’s the latter. And the sooner it is acknowledged, the sooner a solution can be identified. Unless, those in power decide to keep it that way. Then, it becomes more tragic than the Rod Blagojevich story.