In the end, the fact that Jesse Jackson, Jr. is going to jail in disgrace is less significant than what his disgraceful career represents. Jackson is only one man, and many men have failed their responsibilities to society while showing dire deficits of character in the process. Jackson’s career, however, is smoking gun evidence of the travesty we have allowed America’s democratic system of government to become. If there are any who still wonder why the nation seems incapable of addressing its problems and challenges responsibly, look no further. This is a democracy whose citizenry has become too complacent, lazy, apathetic and ignorant for the privilege of self-government. The implications of this are terrifying.
Reading the various articles about Jackson’s imminent guilty plea to conspiracy charges, I was struck by the realization that this one-time rising political star is a child. He misappropriated over $750,000 in campaign funds to buy, among other gewgaws like a Rolex watch, such indefensible treasures as Bruce Lee memorabilia ($10,105), Michael Jackson mementos ($14,200), a “Michael Jackson and Eddie Van Halen” guitar for $4,000, and a Michael Jackson fedora, a bargain at $4,600…all with money donated to his political campaign. This is the caliber of mind and the considered priorities of the man entrusted by an Illinois congressional district to participate on their behalf in crucial decisions affecting jobs, the economy, and the course of the nation, while being consistently endorsed by our toadying news media.
Jackson is pathetic, but I do not blame him for his ridiculous conduct and stunning incompetence. I blame the irresponsible voters who elected him, and the millions like them who act as if running a country can be successfully accomplished with less study and attention than a typical 12-year-old devotes to a new videogame.
What substantive qualifications did Jesse Jackson, Jr. have for high elected office? None. He had a famous and accomplished father with a recognizable name, not that his father’s character is anything to write ballads about either. Jackson, Jr. was not an impressive scholar, and he never excelled at any job. He was wholly and completely pampered and carried through life by his rich and powerful father, until his name could be slapped on a ballot by a cynical Democratic Party that didn’t care about the caliber of candidate it offered the public, but only whether the candidate could win. Naturally, Jackson did win, just as so many other under-qualified candidates of dubious or non-existent credentials have in the process of being granted lazy passes to power by casually incompetent voters. His name sounded familiar, just as their names did: Mary Bono, Al Gore, George W, Bush, Ted Kennedy and all the second generation Kennedys, Rand Paul, and so many more. Over 40 current members of the Senate and the House are there primarily because their fathers or mothers served before them, usually better. Some are competent legislators, but that is more or less an accident, if true. Since 1921, over 50 women have been elected to the House or the Senate to succeed their dead husbands; their qualifications to run the nation consist of taking the marriage vows. Jesse Jackson. Jr.’s rise was just a variation on a theme.
Once these legacy selections have been ensconced in the halls of power, anything is possible. Jackson was an eight term Congressman! His constituents didn’t care whether he could do the job or not—they liked his name, they liked his father, they liked his party, they liked his color—eh, what the hell. He was elected by a landslide in 2012 despite being under investigation, despite having been unable to do his job for most of his term, and despite being mentally ill. Jackson’s public utterances were frequently incoherent or idiotic, but never mind: he was, we are told, considered prime material for Senator, Governor, even President. Once inflicted on the system by atrociously ill-informed and negligent voters, their inexcusable choices can do immeasurable harm, not the least of which is being incapable of or uninterested in governing effectively while being elevated through inertia to positions of greater and greater prestige and power.
The lesson of Jesse Jackson, Jr. is that the United States has become a democracy whose citizens refuse to take self-government seriously, and so have representatives in the highest offices in the land who treat them with the inattention, contempt, deceit and disrespect they deserve. Don’t blame Jackson, and don’t blame his father. Of all forms of government, democracy places the greatest demands on the public. It is becoming increasingly clear that the American public is no longer capable of meeting those demands, or particularly interested in doing so.
Source, Graphic: Washington Post
25 thoughts on “Jesse Jackson, Jr. and Our Sick Democracy”
America is NOT a democracy it is a constitutional REPUBLIC!
The State of ILLinois is the most corrupt state in the union but the voters continue to vote for mostly democrats anyway even after decades of overt corruption with mob feckleness all over it.That is because they are stupid people who apparently ignores the many problems their chosen one create or perpetuate the old ones.Note how Mayor Richard Daley kept getting reelected despite that he screwed over the blacks and the poor in the city over a 25 year period.
Consider that his father is a known adulter,cheater,liar and race pimp.It is not surprising that his son has a similar disregard for moral and civil behavior as well.It is a pathetic family that needs to return to the ghetto where they really belong because they abuse the trust and gullability of the people they are supposed to represent……… oh wait!
Yes, yes, we know. It is not a direct democracy, but it is a democratic form of government, with universal suffrage.
Noun: 1) A system of government by the whole population or all the eligible members of a state, typically through elected representatives.
2) A state governed in such a way.
This meets the definition of both Republic and democracy—republic is a sub-category. I don’t appreciate the pedantry, especially when you don’t know what you are talking about, and I do. The post is about the responsibility of citizens in a democracy. Before you correct someone on terminology, make sure you know the terms yourself.
I am sure you know more than the founding fathers who created the REPUBLICAN form of government for every state of the union.
They created a Constitutional Republic and that you have not contradicted at all.But to play your misleading word game with a simple dictionary effort that fails to contradict what I said.
This article should help you clear your confusion on what I stated which the founding fathers themselves understood what it meant:
Republic from a teaching dictionary and note what some of the founding fathers say about the difference between a democracy and the American Republic:
In the U.S. historical tradition, the belief in republicanism shaped the U.S. Revolution and Constitution. Before the revolution, leaders developed many political theories to justify independence from Great Britain. Thomas Paine, in his book Common Sense (1776), called for a representative government for the colonies and for a written constitution. Paine rejected the legitimacy of the monarchy to have a part in government. This attack on the king was echoed the following year in the Declaration of Independence, where Thomas Jefferson proposed that colonists reject the monarchy and become republican citizens.
Framers of the U.S. Constitution intended to create a republican government. Article IV, Section 4, states “The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government….” Though the language was vague, the authors of the Constitution clearly intended to prevent the rise to power of either a monarchy or a hereditary aristocracy. Article I, Section 9, states, “No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States,” and most state constitutions have similar provisions.
The guarantee of republican government was designed to provide a national remedy for domestic insurrection threatening the state governments and to prevent the rise of a monarchy, about which there was some talk at the time.
James Madison is brought up in the link where he make clear that America via the framework of the constitution is a Constitutional Republic.
The very existence of Administratice,Legislative and Judicial branches of government at the state and federal level clearly show a Republicam form of government.
Voters do not have a direct role in state and national government.
Do I need to do another exposition on the Constitution, the Founding Fathers and the Federalist papers again?
Not for my benefit, and I wouldn’t waste the effort on Tommy, who appears to be on a one-way express to Bansville.
Definitely not directed your way.
I find amusing that he gets his send off wrong when he says voters do not have a direct role in the general government or even the states.
Last I checked we all directly vote for the HR. and ever since the idiotic 17th amendment, the senate as well
You’re an idiot.
The piece was clear, and English was the language. I’m the recipient of an honors degree in American Government from Harvard college and a magna on an honors thesis about the Founding Fathers among others, and I understand the distinction very well. I don’t need gratuitous lectures from someone who read a factoid on a bubble gum card that he thinks makes him look smart. A republican form of government is a democracy, and when I say I don’t appreciate the pedantry, the correct response is “I’m sorry,” and to shut up.
You have one more chance to get it right. I don’t write to provide showboat ops for jerks.
And in fairness, let me be really clear, because the more I consider your gratuitous insult, the more annoyed I become. To recap:
Me: “Of all forms of government, democracy places the greatest demands on the public.”
You: Ha-Ha, you misused the term “democracy.”
Me: No, I didn’t. The term includes republics in common parlance, and every dictionary definition supports my use of the word. I know the distinction, and using the generic term is all that the point of the post required. Cut it out. I don’t need gratuitous pedantry.
You: An unneeded lecture on the US as a republic, as if I am ignorant of it, when I just explained why I used the term I did.
Me: 1) I am certified as comprehending the American government and its theoretical underpinnings by a major institution of learning of some note, and neither require nor appreciate condescending lectures, particularly after I specifically said to stop it.
You (PROSPECTIVE): Either an apology for being a jerk, or silence.
More of the same gets you banned. I am happy to be schooled, for there is much I don’t know, 1) when it is germane to the discussion 2) when it involves a topic on which I have no expertise, and 3) when it is done with the minimal respect I require of guests on my own blog. Your comments have failed to meet any of those requirements.
Thank you. This is also an excellent example of self government. We set standards and enforce them. We tolerate reasoned dissent and argument but not nonsense. Tommy take a little bit of advice, stop, think about your actions and learn from the experience. It will make you a better person who can actually bring something to the conversation.
There are too many aspects anymore to completely blame it on the voter. At one time we may have been able to correct this with education of the public, but not any longer. Great damage has been done to the U.S. by the Supreme Courts in many ways. Here are a few horrible decisions that the Supreme Court made. 1. Corporations are people. 2. Deciding that other countries can involve and contribute to the funding of a candidate.
So what is the answer when you have within all levels of the court systems and government that they do not have to pay attention to the Constitution, Amendments, Bill of Rights, what laws they pass can be imposed upon the citizens, but that they do not have to abide by the same laws (two way legal systems). No one is and/or can stop this process that we are witnessing now in the destruction of our nation. Obviously educating the public is not working.
You mention that you do not blame Mr. Jackson for his wrong doing. You mention that he is just a child. This is absurd! This is the very same reasoning that so many other adults try to pass off that this is a child, look the other way syndrome. This is an adult that does not have and/or if he does have, he grossly posses few morals and ethics. Mr. Jackson is an adult , he knows right from wrong.
Let me know when someone figures how not to allow the passing down of positions to a relative and/or a spouse, how not to allow the high numbers of lawyers into Congress/representatives. Let me know when someone figures out how to make these individuals enforce the Constitution, Bill of Rights, the laws. It is obvious no one has the answers right now and/or will have anytime soon to stop this corrupt government, court system and destruction of this nation.
I stopped reading after your first paragraph, which is untrue, misleading, ignorant, and utter nonsense. The Supreme Court has never ruled that “corporations are people,’ nor has it ruled that foreign countries can contribute to the funding of a candidate, none of which has anything to do with the post.
Maybe she doesn’t like Dartmouth College v. Woodward or Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railway Co.,
I should note that I say this tongue-in-cheek. I don’t want to seriously add to the pedantry on this post.
Doesn’t like, nor comprehend…
I’m going to vote for the latter…
The comments on this topic seems to be veering off of the subject. I wonder if the idea that we either can’t or no longer have the ability to govern ourselves is too painful to consider head on. I want to think the best of institutions that I cherish and my fellow citizens. I don’t want to hold fellow citizens in contempt and believe that everything is corrupt and broken. But I guess that makes it all the more important to take these issues head on.
So does this problem mean that our institutions are broken, the people are broken, or some combination of the two?
The institutions are not broken. They are occupied by broken people elected by broken people who never had a civics lesson in their life.
Even if the people are unfit to govern themselves they are still way better than an unelected group of people to govern them.
Yes, this would be my view as well.
Say what you want about Jessie Jackson Jr, but at least he broke the string of IL-02 Reps who went to prison for rape…
Giving credit where credit is due!
And to improve the hilarity? The guy before JJJr (the one who went to prison for the statutory rape of a campaign worker) is running for the seat, and is expected to put in a good, strong showing in the primary…
Ah Chicago, what a delightful example of all that is “best” about Democratic politics.
As long as we have a electorial system mandated by federal law as to be based on demographics, as long as we have a political attitude in place that demographics (i.e. race) is a natural source of antagonism and as long as that concept is fostered among people by schooling and culture from the cradle, we will have dysfunctional race politicians like Jesse Jackson, Sr. and his misbegotten son in positions or offices of power… to everybody’s detriment.
I agree whole-heartedly. Just wanted to add that, in case a new election is scheduled anytime soon, I’d like to nominate LOUISIANA as “the most corrupt State in the Union”.
Illinois by far.
Huey Long established a precedent in Louisiana. But even his legacy wasn’t as bad as the cesspool of Chicago machine politics and the tentacles it throws over Illinois.