I ask because Illinois has just seen the political game board given a swift kick under the table.
And I wonder where the pieces are going to fall.
Yesterday, at exactly high noon, US District Judge James Zagel potted former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich, the fourth Illinois governor out of the last nine to get sent up the river. The DA was asking for 15-20 years. Zagel gave him 14.
You may not think 14 years is all that much, especially given all the corruption he helped orchestrate. But let me explain what exactly this is. Blagojevich turns 55 this Saturday. Because this is a federal pen, he can't pull a Lindsay Lohan, he will have to serve at least 85% of his sentence before he can get out early. So he will be there between 12 and 14 years. Each year inside chips away at any chance of a meaningful life when he gets out. He will be 67 to 69 years old. He will be too old to start over with his life, but not young enough to die and get it over with. He'll be stuck here, at the mercy of whatever life and those he used to be in charge of who are now in charge deigning he should have. It's such a perfect punishment, you'd almost think God Himself came up with it.
Activists have long known about how companies regard fines from the EPA and such as part of the cost of doing business. If they pollute the environment and get fined $500,000, but make $4,000,000, they'll just go ahead and pollute. Who cares, really? In Illinois, getting sent to the slammer is part of the job. No one cares, no one really pays.
Blago is about to. And he knows it. It's why he fought so hard. Every trick in the book, letters from old ladies who got free rides on the bus, pulling out his children, political props he and his wife created themselves, saying he started from nothing despite going to Harvard Law.
Fourteen years is a long time in political terms. Entire administrations change two or three times over, leaving anyone not plugged in from the get-go twisting in the wind. And for the Combine, the two parties that cooperate to run Illinois at the cost of us citizens, missing out on anything means you are done. They're political sharks, not because of their viciousness, but because, if they stop moving, they die.
I'm keen on what comes next. Blago doesn't have it in him to last 12 years. He's too immature. He sees his "buddies" will not help him. I'm wondering if he flips before he reports on Feb 16, to get himself out of there faster and as one last "Fuck you" to those he felt he should squeeze and they rebelled.
The newspapers are saying this is the birth of a new day. Two weeks ago, noted political fixer Tony Rezko got 10.5 years. The Combine is sweating.
The question is, can we, both the citizens of Illinois and our public guardians, keep it up?