You know, some of you may recall a story regarding legendary baseball player and coach Pete Rose. In 1989, the pendant winning player-manager was kicked out of the league for betting on baseball. The late baseball commissioner A. Bartlett Giamatti felt that the fact that he had bet on his own game was so egregious that he should be banned from the game indefinitely. Like it or not, sports heroes are role models, especially for children. To this day, Rose, 69, remains disqualified from the Baseball Hall of fame.
We hold our sports figures to a very high standard. And we should. How much more should we hold our political figures to an exacting moral standard. State Senator Tupac Hunter, a Detroit Democrat, realizes this, and has conceived Propopsal 2, a twenty-year constitutional ban for public officials who commit crimes that betray the public trust. Upon conviction, the official would removed immediately from his or her position .According to the Detroit Free Press, the proposal makes clear that crimes such as perjury and obstruction of justice–and most likely misappropriation of funds–would make a public official ineligible to run for public office again for twenty years.
The constitutional measure according to the Free Press, is nicknamed by some as the “Kwame Amendment,” after fallen Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, who pled guilty to lying under oath and obstruction of justice back in September 2008. Such a provision is already in place for officials at the State level in Michigan. This amendment would extend it to city officials.
On Tuesday, November 2, Michigan voters will be asked to make a decision on Proposal 2. I think that while this is a major step in the right direction, I am wondering if it goes far enough.
Rose is banned from his game for life. He will never be allowed to own or coach a baseball team again, and he will never be invited into the hall of fame.
I think if this rule is to be effective, and send a strong message, that it should require a lifetime ban from politics on being convicted of such corruption. These individuals make the laws that govern us. As voters, we hire them to uphold the law. We expect them to be examples of citizens who abide by the laws they make and are hired to defend. It is part of the oath we make them take, by laying their hands on a Bible.
Kilpatrick, along with recently convicted City Councilwoman Monica Conyers, violated those sacred oaths. They should never again be permitted to serve, in 20 years, in 50 years, in 75 years. Never.
Mind you, I am a Christian. As a man, I can forgive the aforementioned people. I do believe that individuals can repent, can turn their lives around. I have seen people who just ten years ago engaged in prostitution and drug use turn their lives around, into worthy citizens.
However, if you commit a crime while in office, you do not deserve a second chance at being a public official. As Mrs. Koolbreeze would say, “Too bad, so sad.”
Jim Schaefer, “Proposal 2 Aims at Corruption.” The Detroit Free Press, October 24, 2010.