New York's Corruption Mess: An Opportunity for Reform
If I have the numbers correct, this week marked the 30th time in recent history that a New York politician was indicted for corruption. Actually, this week one state senator, two members of the State Assembly, one city councilman and two GOP party officials hit the rocks as part of a wide-ranging Federal investigation. It's a tragedy - not just for their families - not just for their parties - but more importantly for all New Yorkers. Both the Republican and Democrat parties are in a tailspin. Public confidence in the major political institutions is terribly low - and for good reason. Voter turnout is in the tank and more people are registering as unaffiliated voters than ever before. They're tired of the corruption, the back room deals, and the exclusivity of the process. People want better choices and more of them.
The answer must be bold political reform. Both major parties will resist it but real leadership is needed to restore confidence and clean up the mess. What does this look like? Perhaps non-partisan elections. Perhaps campaign finance reform. Perhaps term limits and increasing the length of the terms for legislators so they're not perpetually running for office and raising money.
New York needs to look beyond its borders to other states as well as test new concepts to make the poltiical process more open, fair and inclusive. Token measures will also be percieved as sweeping this under the rug. This is a very New York moment - turn crisis into a chance to do something innovative, groundbreaking and big that will set a new standard for the nation. I'm not holding my breath - but that's the direction we need to go to right the ship of state.