Politics As Usual

Another crooked politician (property of J Hopkins)

I’ll be honest. There was a time when I thought a career in politics might not be such a bad idea.

Bear in mind that I am no politician, never majored in Political Science, have only a basic knowledge of how it actually works and, in most cases, could care less.

Some might view these deficiencies as hindrances, but to me, they seemed like advantages. After all, don’t we normally complain about politicians being corrupt, self-serving, money-grubbing fat cats with no interest in what the people really want? Here was a chance for someone with no underhanded agenda, limited connections and some other “missing parts” (most notably no filter to prevent every thought from being verbalized) to truly represent the people.

How could everyone not vote for me?

Then reality set in and I realized that politics just isn’t my bag, baby. Why, you ask? It should be obvious.

Politics and honesty rarely go hand-in-hand. And to me, that’s the problem with our government.

Of course, that’s a story for another time.

Back when I was entertaining the thought of running for office, I can’t say the potential for big money never crossed my mind. To a layman like me, it seems that all these folks do is sit around and bicker, campaign like crazy, waste taxpayers’ money (on things like private jets and exotic vacations), enjoy seemingly endless time off, kiss special interest ass and cash in tasty paychecks.

What’s not to love, right? Maybe the ass kissing, but even that could be pleasant if it was followed by a kickback of some kind.

Then I remembered that old saying by Simon Cameron, himself a politician way back in the 1860s: “An honest politician is one who, when he is bought, will stay bought.” And that clinched it: politics were not for me.

These days, one of the things I find most disturbing about politics—aside from someone cheating on their dying wife and spawning a love child with a mistress—is when politicians use public funds or donations for their own selfish purposes. Some live lifestyles so lavish that they should consider changing their last names to Kardashian, for goodness sake!

Every time you turn on the news, there’s another one. Or in the case of today, another two.

Maureen O’Connor (courtesy of NBC News)

The first is Maureen O’Connor, former mayor of San Diego and the first woman to serve in that capacity in the city’s history. In court recently, O’Connor admitted that she misappropriated funds from her late husband’s foundation to feed her casino gambling addiction.

Her late husband. How sketchy is that?

In all, O’Connor stole $2 million to fund a habit that allegedly resulted in more than $1 billion in total wins and losses over the years. One BILLION dollars. That in itself would take a sizable bite out of America‘s national debt, don’t you think?

Instead, O’Connor has signed a deferred prosecution agreement and will have to pay the money back, pay her taxes and obtain treatment for her gambling addiction. Surprisingly (and I am being facetious), this came after her attorney claimed that a brain tumor affected her judgment in playing video poker.

It’s obvious she didn’t spend a lot on her defense.

The fact is, though, that O’Connor is bankrupt and ailing. She suffered a stroke in 2011 (thanks to the aforementioned tumor), underwent brain surgery and has since lost some cognitive ability.

Translation: It doesn’t look as if she can pay back the money. And in two years, O’Connor could be headed to jail for ten.

Uh oh, Maureen. It looks like John Lennon was right when he said, “Instant karma’s going to get you.” If only you had listened.

Jesse Jackson Jr. (courtesy of Reuters)

Instant karma also got another politician this week: former U.S. Representative Jesse Jackson Jr.

In charges filed on Friday, federal prosecutors alleged that Jackson misused almost $800,000 in campaign funds for gifts and personal expenses. And when you hear some of the things he purchased, you will better understand why I chose higher education over politics.

Among the items purchased by the Illinois Democrat were Rolex watches, fur coats, furniture and even memorabilia from former presidents, Martin Luther King Jr. and the “King of Pop” himself, Michael Jackson. The former representative even used campaign credit cards to pay half a million bucks of his personal expenses, which I assume were things like bills, gas fill-ups, travel charges, vacations and other “amenities.”

O’Connor had a brain tumor, Jesse Jr. What’s your excuse?

Although both of these examples refer to former politicians, the truth is that they both abused their authority while in office and attempted to shortchange the American people. Or in O’Connor’s case, the American people and her dead husband.

Were politics to blame for their immoral and unethical behavior? Or were these just a few bad apples attempting to spoil the otherwise “good” bunch?

I think we all know the answer to that. And that’s why I will be staying the hell out of politics.

Consider yourselves lucky.

Posted on February 19, 2013, in Perspectives and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. To get into politics was my secret dream because I was pretty sure that I’d be laughed at if I told this to anyone.
    I always kept cribbing about the state of affairs and I thought that I might as well do something about it.
    Gradually I realized that it was easier said than done. It’s simple really, people will not let you come to the forefront if you’re honest. I thought being a politician was to forgo your own selfish interests and instead care about the state’s. Now that was a major reality check. I had expected atleast a few of them to be honest.

    So now, I’m doing law.

    • I know exactly what you mean, my friend. Honest politicians either don’t exist or don’t stay honest for long. Here’s hoping you can use the law to affect positive change. If honesty is as important to you as it seems, then I’m sure you’ll accomplish your goal and help a lot of people in the process. Thanks for the comments and good luck out there! 🙂

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