Goodbye Blagojevich, hello Gov. Quinn

The Senate trial that quickly came to an end late Thursday afternoon finally gave the people of Illinois something to look forward to, and, even more importantly, it turned the page for Illinois politics. The unanimous vote to impeach former Governor Rod Blagojevich (59-0) might have seemed rushed as the trial barely spanned four days, but the decision was inevitable, and this particular one came as much-needed relief. It’s good to see the small light at the end of this dark tunnel and to know the Illinois Senate finally acted in the best interest of the people of Illinois.

Throughout our state’s long history of political corruption, this is the first time a chief executive has been impeached and convicted, and we couldn’t be happier. Though we have mixed feelings about exactly what it is we have to look forward to, there’s one thing to be sure about: Blagojevich is gone, and he will never again be able to hold office in Illinois.

However positive Thursday’s decision was, it still remains somewhat of a sad, if not pathetic, day for Illinois, especially when we have to admit that we may not have hit rock bottom quite yet. And now that former Lt. Governor Pat Quinn has been sworn in as governor, as much as we’d like to think inept government is behind us, we can’t be certain. With Blagojevich out of office and heading toward his federal court trial, it’s not likely he’ll go down without a fight. We expect him to try and drag down as many people with him as he can. Misery loves company, and ‘Misery’ just might be Blagojevich’s middle name. He’s certainly brought enough of it to this state while in office.

But the most important question of what’s to come really lies with what’s already happened. How did Illinois get so deep into trouble without anybody taking notice? Is it because for the longest time we’ve had so little faith in our politicians that we haven’t been holding them fully accountable for their actions? Is it because we’ve been assuming our government officials are doing corrupt things so we’re not surprised when something actually surfaces? Either way, this has to stop, and what better time than the present? With Blagojevich gone, the government has lost its loyal scapegoat, and now its faults will be its own wrongdoing for everybody to see.

Because of that, Governor Quinn needs to start off strong. He got the vote of confidence Thursday evening and we’re ready to see him take the responsibility of being governor and do us proud. With yet another governor most likely heading to prison, we don’t have very high expectations. But in the very least, it would be impossible – we hope – for Quinn to sink to the level that Blagojevich did, which has made Illinois a laughingstock.

When Obama was elected president, a light proudly shone on Illinois. When Blagojevich was arrested, that light went out. Maybe now, Illinois’ light will begin to flicker once again.