Just as we’ve barely started asking ourselves why Senator Rod Wright is still in office after getting convicted of voter fraud after five years of trial delays, State Senator Ron Calderon bursts onto the scene with this massive corruption case involving pay-to-play legislation, money laundering, family members, and who knows what else. . As disgusting as scandals like these are, we will hear and say, over and over again, that this stuff has happened before and it’s just part of political culture. Or we will talk about the need to enact some law or require something that will act as a deterrent. Worse than that, you might hear people defend corruption, confusing personality with public good. Trading the good for the bad, so to speak, and this one didn’t do anything that these others blatantly got away with, or…. so on. |
But those are just the things we say to rationalize our refusal to demand more; more action from ourselves, from our neighbors, from our family, and from our government. These scandals should be enraging and we should judge our own inactions harshly.
Sadly, we will most likely not act on this and will instead sink further into our jaded, cynical funk. And this negative outlook – albeit completely warranted – only functions as a lubricant for the corruption to perpetuate the system. Because until we demand change, our public self-servants will continue to exploit the system we have created.
Who is the public self-servant?
He is the political ambulance chaser who seemlessly pivots from one adamant stance to the next as long as there is a crowd. She is the candidate who stumps for rigid and nonspecific ideology when the community needs specific solutions for real world problems. It’s not just the elected official lining his pockets with bribes in pay-to-play systems, but it’s also the politician who capriciously jumps from one office to the next before the term is over because it’s a more powerful position.
The public self-servant games the system for maximum personal benefit, parlaying influence towards multiple options that build her own career and trades public stability for personal gain. She is the one who trucks heavily in rhetoric and lightly in substance.
We created this public self-servant model, though. We did it through our complacency when we didn’t vote. Or when we didn’t research the candidate. Or when we relied on one news source, Fox News or MSNBC, to do our thinking for us. Or when we slid into rigid ideology and refused to challenge people from our own parties. We did it when we supported a candidate’s personality and refused to challenge that candidate to state, publicly, what her solutions are to our most profound problems. We did it when we succomned to the theatrics of ideology instead of demanding the specifics of practicality.
Let’s take full advantage of these scandals unfolding before us. Let’s be prudent and active, for once, and take stock of how often we’ve wearing blinders. Unless, however, you prefer to rely on that “politics as usual” catch-all rationalization to explain away the corruption around us.
So I ask, where have you become complacent?
Nothing will ever change until we stop looking the other way. Our lack of diligence in the election process as a populace may have created the environment in which the public self-servant wins, but it is the activist’s refusal to puncture the glib answers our own candidates give while in office that perpetuates the corrupt system.
We know when we hear political platitudes or copouts and the choice to remain silent after the election is the real problem because the shadows forming at the edge of our passivity are the real breeding grounds for corruption.
Yet, I hold out hope for a government that serves its people. I refuse to accept that corruption is inevitable and you should do the same. Don’t shake your head knowingly when you read about Ron Calderon. Shake your head in horror and take to the streets. Refuse to sink into cynicism.
Only when we return to an era in which we demand that our public officials actually are steadfast community servants; only when real people demand to be taken seriously, and only when we as a community set aside our star-struck approach to our mayors and governors and Senators, only when we have the confidence to demand purity of character in our government, only then will we stop fostering the kind of corrupt environment public self-servants thrive within.
Until then, we should just start set up a corruption trial season at the end of every legislative session. That way we can streamline judicial resources and save the taxpayer a little money.
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Corruption, Ron Calderon, Rod Wright, Los Angeles, Los Angeles City Council, LAUSD, Unite Blue, Libcrib,