Tuesday, July 29, 2008
Ted Stevens Indicted
Senator Ted Stevens (R-AK)
As many long suspected, Senator Ted Stevens (R-AK) has been indicted on federal corruption charges involving lying about favors and gifts he received. Everyone in Washington knew the senator was in trouble when the FBI served a search warrant on his Alaska home last year. According to the charges, Stevens lied to conceal over $250,000 worth of gifts and home renovation services he received from an oil contractor seeking favorable treatment from the government.
The 84-year-old Stevens has been around the political scene forever, building a reputation for pork barrel politics and abrasiveness. He is the longest-serving Republican in the Senate. Now he stands accused of criminal corruption.
I have no opinion on the charges, and Stevens is presumed innocent until proven guilty. Yet, this is just one more black eye for the Republican Party and politics in general. What is the public to think of our elected leaders? Is it now commonly accepted that our politicians are in office to feather their own nests, make a fortune and have a fantastic sex life? From mayors to governors to congresspeople and yes, to senators-it seems that everybody is in politics for their own interests-not because they want to serve their country and the people.
Of course, that is not completely fair. There are decent and dedicated politicians who are not corrupt. However, they all suffer when a bad apple is uncovered. And it must be stated here, bad apples in politics are not an aberration these days. There are a lot of them. It has reached the point where Congress has got to start policing their own-in more draconian fashion. Yet, I suspect that there are many in Congress today who are thinking that they could take a fall themselves.
This should not be a partisan issue. Yes, political junkies on both sides have greatly delighted in watching a politician from the opposing party get caught with his/her hand in the cookie jar, so they could crow about "the culture of corruption". But the reality is that this is a cancer that infects both parties at all levels.
How did we get to this point? is there something about our political system that is conducive to corruption? Apparently so. I think we as voters have to look in the mirror and accept our share of the blame. Why do we vote for any political candidate? Because of party loyalty? Is it due to agreement on the issues? Is it because a candidate is charismatic and speaks well? Is it because the incumbent has a proven record of bringing home the pork? How much do we really care about integrity and character? That last point is open to question when you look at so many of the characters we have put into office in recent years, both Democrat and Republican.
Though I am an independent, being conservative, I have always voted Republican. For that reason, I care about the quality of Republicans in office. The indictment of Stevens is another black eye for the Republican Party. Without passing judgement on his guilt or innocence, his continued presence in the Senate can only further embarrass his party.
He should resign. Now.