The Axis of Impropriety

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It’s not unique to one party or one set of politicians, but it is problematic when it goes down like this for so many at one time.

 Maybe it’s the fact that it happened all at once.

Maybe it’s the fact that it involves one of two Black governors in the nation and one of the most notable Black congressmen over the past 20 years.

Or maybe it’s the fact that their woes went public around the same time that Marion Berry hit the news again for more wrongdoing.

Or maybe it’s just the fact that the impropriety begs the question: is it time for them all to go?

With the controversy coming from Governor Paterson’s office in Albany, NY along with the persistent questions swirling as a result of actions taken by long-termed legislators Charlie Rangel and Marion Berry, more examples highlighting the need for culture change within politics come front-and-center to our attention. And although they are not the only politicians that have committed questionable acts that have tarnished their ethical standing (e.g., we are not that far removed from the Republican Ethics Scourge-n-Purge of a few years ago), we do have to ask ourselves: why do we often continue to elect the same people, even as questions linger around their legislative legacy for years?

Not that the Axis of Impropriety has the same level of negative impact on the nation that the Axis of Evil did years ago, but there is a level of evil that comes with taking advantage of one’s political status for unethical personal gain at the cost of taxpayers’ monies and trust. Our collective failure to correct the situation electorally speaks either to the power of incumbency despite the culture of corruption or the stranglehold of political apathy that chokes opportunities for nouveau leadership within our communities – leadership that is sorely needed in these desperate times.

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Either scenario is an indictment – on the system, on us, or both.

If the power of incumbency – well-equipped with campaign war chests often in the millions, connections at the highest levels of business and government, and name ID that assures that 30% voter turnout (a problem in –and-of itself) will lean towards familiar names – is too unbearable to break the chains of corrupt politicians to their positions in legislative bodies, there is a fundamental issue within the political process that the Founding Fathers of this nation sought to prevent. Although term-limits on the presidency, governors, and some mayors prevent the creation of de facto kings and queens, the difficulties in removing entrenched incumbents that have found their political lifestyles appetizing has become an avenue to foster mini-kings and –queens at other levels of government. This becomes a problem when economic and social times are tough: government has no incentive to become more efficient and pare down when necessary if elected officials become bureaucratic and self-serving in nature instead of representative of and humble to the people that elect them. Those such as Rangel and Berry – the latter a former mayor that continues to find himself in government and subsequently in trouble over it –continued to exhibit t

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