As we await the embarrassing confirmation of Senator Dianne Wilkerson's primary victory and near certain re-election, get a grip. The day of the rascal politician belongs in another era. We simply have too much at stake to send the unethical and crooked to represent our interests in office.
She in particular grieves us. She has a long history of co-sponsoring and occasionally sponsoring civil-rights and marriage-equality legislation. She even gave one very memorable and moving speech in favor of same-sex marriage.
That is not enough. It does not compensate for over a decade of personal failures -- felony convictions for income tax evasion, recent revelations of bounced checks on her condo, the probability of indictment for perjury on testimony in a nephew's murder appeal, and on and on and on and on.
Wilkerson is not the only egomaniac who expects and often gets voters to overlook her inability to control her appetites and her disregard for the rules the rest of us play by, so long as she can show the a record of good votes. Yet, her prolonged and painful disregard for law, decency and the public should disqualify her from consideration for office.
Early on, one might have compared her to U.S. Rep. Wilbur Mills. That powerful, lefty-thinking Democrat ended up only as a stripper-chasing carouser. He pales in contrast to the brazen and continued indulgence of Wilkerson. Yet, in the end, at least he had the decency not to run for office when it was obvious he could not control his personal life.
Oddly, not only do Wilkerson's local voters seem to prefer her (however marginally) over an equally progressive, but unproven Sonia Chang-Diaz. The latter promises the performance, without the disgrace.
Indeed it was quite a shock to read that while the Boston Globe and other liberal editors endorsed Chang-Diaz in the primary, organizations such as Mass Equality and gay-rights supporting papers like Bay Windows came out firmly for our good voting/bad living incumbent. We surmised that she is the devil that they all know, no matter how dishonest, dishonorable and deceitful . They chose the dung encrusted Wilkerson over the clean candidate with the same politics.
Supporting personally unethical and irresponsible politicians is much like bad driving. Those who keep their focus just in front of the hood are are dangerous and short-sighted -- and like to run into another vehicle. There's a lot of information to assimilate to stay a good driver, good voter or worthy endorser. You need to look down the road and to the sides. Limiting yourself to just the short-term goal of getting elected or arriving fastest is no longer adequate, if it ever was.
There is a very good chance that Wilkerson won't serve out her term. She has legal actions, criminal and civil, peeking in her windows. She will be further distracted by them and possibly face more trials and convictions. As little attention as she seems able to apply to her duties as it is, that will be even more unacceptable.
Wilkerson is really only the worst current example. We need, as Chang-Diaz is so quick to point out, a higher standard for our elected officials.
If you really need vicarious pleasures of picaresque heroes, read or watch a version of All the King's Men or The Last Hurrah. Those destructive rascals belonged to a different century. Let them stay there.
Tags: massmarrier, Massachusetts, senator, Sonia Chang-Diaz, Dianne Wilkerson