Cao Victory Proves Corruption is Always a Loser

Cao Victory Proves Corruption is Always a Loser


In a grim election year, the Republicans can at least take solace in the fact that they didn’t lose to a guy who was caught with $90,000 in his freezer. With the defeat of William Jefferson of Louisiana, Republican Anh “Joseph” Cao has proven that even amidst a Democratic sweep and even in a heavily Democratic district, voters will punish corruption.

Minority Leader John Boehner is even using the Cao victory as a roadmap to future Republican success. While it’s unlikely that too many more Democrats will be as brazenly corrupt as was Jefferson, make no mistake that there will be Dems who succumb to the temptations of power. And there are already a few old-school, powerful Democrats who possesses questionable ethics (see: John “Abscam” Murtha and the current investigation of Charlie Rangel).

Boehner is on to something when he encourages his Republican colleagues to stand up to corruption and deliver a positive rather than cynical message. Of course, it will take awhile to erase from the public’s memory the Republican’s own tenure of corruption. But that doesn’t mean the Republicans left standing can’t, over time, reshape themselves into a minority party capable of standing up to the excesses of the ruling party.

Democrats, for their part, have to be vigilant against corruption in their midst. Senate and House leaders can’t coddle their ethically challenged members or downplay the seriousness of corruption. As Cao’s victory proves, voters will not long abide by leaders who abuse their power — no matter what letter comes after their name.

  • Susanna

    I’m glad to hear they finally got rid of Jefferson. It was an embarrassment to the country that he got re-elected right after they found the cash in his freezer. Those long-time politicians can be really, really tough to oust.

  • George Mauer

    I’m from New Orleans and as much as I am wary of having an intensely devout republican as a congressman Cao is by all accounts energetic, a nice guy, and most importantly – squeaky clean. So hats off to the man. I certainly did not think on Saturday that he’d come out on top and was quite depressed at the prospect of more Jefferson but its turning out to be cynic busting-season so horray!

  • kranky kritter

    I think it’s way off to see any roadmaps in these results besides the one you put in the title, that corruption is a loser.

    Sure, power corrupts and some democrats will succumb. But in my experience the public tends not to punish pols for corruption unless there’s a smoking gun, like 90k under the ice cube tray or a videotape of someone taking an envelope of cash and stuffing it in their bra, that sort of thing.

    Until you get caught red-handed, you’re just a lovable scoundrel.

  • Brad Porter

    Here’s the real lesson in all this: voters aren’t as stupid as conventional wisdom imagines them to be.

    Jefferson was thought to be safe because the demographic and political makeup of his district supposedly made it impossible for a black Democrat to lose. Voters were not imagined to be able to step out of their little identity politics heads long enough to actually vote him out.

    But all over the map, we’ve been seeing genuinely awful congresspeople thrown out of office when voters, even voters they are purportedly perpetually safe with/from, kick them to the curb. Stevens in Alaska (longest serving Republican in history, been in the Senate longer than most Alaskans have been alive), Musgrave in Colorado, the Ryun-Boyda-Jenkins progression in my hometown district of KS-2, both party’s primaries where, by and large, the cw-anointed frontrunners couldn’t compete, voters weren’t going to be told who to vote for, and so they sifted through and found their best candidates.

    It’s a dirty little secret of American democracy that sometimes it actually works pretty well.