William Katz:  Urgent Agenda

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THE DISGRACE – AT 9:29 A.M. ET:  One of the most disgraceful episodes in this election was the re-election, by a landslide of Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. of Chicago.  He hadn't shown up for his Congressional work in months, claiming "depression."  It was known that he faced multiple ethics and legal investigations.   And yet black voters of Chicago dutifully went to the polls and re-elected him. 

Now it turns out that, all this time, Jackson has been negotiating a plea deal with prosecutors, but held that back from voters.  There is a growing sense of frustration among some in the Chicago African-American community, who wonder when this blind loyalty to some candidates will end.

Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. “cheated” the voters.

But, knowing as much as they did, those who re-elected the MIA congressman are “crazy, mindless voters who are taking orders from downtown.”

Those were some of the reactions from Jackson’s just vanquished rivals as they took in the surprise news that the freshly re-elected South Shore Democrat is in plea negotiations for alleged misuse of his campaign funds.

The surprise development also raises the possibility, should Jackson step down or be forced out, of a costly special election straddling at least three counties right after a general election was just held.

Word of the plea talks set off another flurry of interest in the 2nd Congressional District seat. The district includes some of the most economically devastated portions of the city but ostensibly has had no representation since Jackson went on leave in June.

Marcus Lewis, who ran as an independent Tuesday, voiced his frustration with voters, who gave Jackson 63 percent of the vote.

“We’re dealing with crazy, mindless voters who are taking orders from downtown. The 181,000 that voted for Jesse in spite of knowing that the man is up on charges, knowing that he cheated on his wife,” he said. “Knowing that he has a 244-page ethics investigation. They’re crazy!”

Jackson has not been charged with any crime.

But one day after he was re-elected Tuesday in a commanding win, Chicago Sun-Times columnist Michael Sneed revealed that Jackson is in plea negotiations with federal authorities. The story was first reported on the Sun-Times Web site late Wednesday.

Sneed reported that not only is Jackson under investigation for allegedly using campaign funds to decorate his Washington home, but investigators are also trying to determine whether he used campaign funds to buy a $40,000 Rolex watch as a gift for a female friend.

“This needs to be destroyed. This machine needs to be destroyed forthwith,” Lewis said. “They’re playing us like we’re silly. I know people who are suffering in the district. We needed to get in there. It’s a machine that is like a poisonous cobra.”

A longtime Jackson critic, Anthony W. Williams, who ran as a write-in candidate, said the Jackson political dynasty manipulated voters.

“The voters of the 2nd District have been cheated once again,” said Williams. “It is important that we call for a special election.”

COMMENT:  Benjamin Franklin, upon the creation of the United States, admonished, "a republic, if you can keep it."  Keeping it means demanding that political candidates and parties compete for your vote, prove their ability and their fidelity. 

And yet, Jackson is re-elected in a landslide.  And yet, reports out of black communities show votes of 200-1 for Obama.  Talk about a community being taken for granted...

If it's one group I'd place right at the bottom in American politics it's "ethnic leaders" of various groups.  They exploit their followers, demanding group loyalty, and then almost always fail to deliver anything of value.   Like the old ethnically based machines, like Tammany Hall in New York, they rule with fear, giving out little favors and stealing the rest.  Black America deserves better than it's getting, but black America must realize that itself.

November 9, 2012