By Evan Demaree
As Lake County residents, we often find ourselves standing with folded arms upon our “high hill” as we peer over yonder to the perpetually ongoing disaster across the Stateline that is Cook County. We may also shake our heads and say, “At least I’m not in Illinois. They’re corrupt.” -But what is corruption, exactly? Is it limited to dimly lit backrooms where seedy politicians convene at a table enshrouded by swirling tobacco smoke? Or is it a bit closer to home? Does it happen on the street? The local police station? The elementary school? Lake County is heartily accustomed to FBI investigations, public scandals, and voter fraud (among throngs of other misconducts). If corruption cannot be completely eliminated from government, how can residents limit it?
A stark characteristic in most areas suffering from corrupt leadership is political stagnation. If an area overwhelmingly votes for one political party over another successively for several election cycles, the motivation and drive of the elected politicians often diminishes with each assured victory. The decline of the city of Gary may be partially owed to this rampant flaw. Democrats often run unopposed in many elections. Though Mayor Freeman-Wilson has made conscientious efforts to lure people back to Gary, she faces a nearly insurmountable hurdle due to years of political inaction and failure.
Lake County’s own Sheriff, John Buncich, was indicted on a bribery charge by a federal grand jury in November due to a “towing contract” scandal involving several other area politicians. This superseded former Lake County Surveyor George Van Til’s own scandal where he eventually pleaded guilty to wire fraud and aiding and abetting. During the elections, an organization founded by a Democratic Party member was found to be producing spurious voter registration applications in Lake County and various other counties throughout the state. If this is too much to handle in one sitting and you are considering to have a glass of water, think again.
Area politicians have been aware of East Chicago’s lead contamination since at least the mid 1980’s. Not only have countless people been exposed to harmful lead levels for the past thirty years, our local leaders could have prevented unnecessary exposure long before the EPA forced the matter. Sadly, hundreds of individuals, mostly children, have suffered debilitating effects from lead poisoning. Months after residents were formally notified, it was discovered that lead levels in the water of many East Chicago homes were also dangerously high. How could this have gone unaddressed for so long? Why do we elect politicians who have proven track records of jeopardizing public health?
Corruption may never be eliminated, but it can be constricted with transparency, electing earnest politicians, and, since government is inherently corrupt, reducing the size of government may also assist alleviating corruption. As a libertarian, I not only support Libertarian Party candidates, I support any candidate I feel will represent their constituents most effectively, often, it happens to be Libertarian candidates who represent the values I associate with competent responsible leadership. No matter whether you are a socialist, democrat, republican, green, or an independent, we can strive to work together for the betterment of Lake County and beyond.
On January 12, The Libertarian Party of Lake County will be hosting a callout meeting at the Region Alehouse in Schererville at 7 pm to anyone interested in joining us in our fight to reduce corruption and promote alternative candidates committed to preserving and maintaining your independence and safety.