The Chicago Way: A Never-Ending Cycle of Corruption

Why the Chicago Machine Keeps Getting Stronger in Spite of Its Incompetence and Profiteering

Cycles are a necessary part of life. If it weren’t for the cycles of the brain, heart, and lungs we couldn’t function or exist. As with the cyclical processes inside our human bodies, the air, food, and water that sustain us are also products of cycles. Since virtually everything is part of a cycle, or the result of a cycle, it is only natural that political cycles produce the ebb and flow of our local and federal governments.

But not all cycles are positive. Self-destructive cycles can lead people to ruin or death. We all know someone who has struggled with a painful cycle of alcohol, cancer, or drugs. The father of psychotherapy, Sigmund Freud, referred to vicious cycles as “repetitive compulsions” or “repetitive obsessions.”

In politics, candidates and voters are compelled and obsessed to repeat political cycles that are not good for them. Instead of uniting voters, when most election cycles end, there is a bigger rift between politicians and the people who voted for them.

Democrats, Republicans, and independent voters are all part of one gigantic national political cycle. Regardless of our political affiliation, we are often collectively worse off at the end of the most recent political cycle than we were at the conclusion of the previous political cycle. Fortunately, we have the means to break our current self-defeating political cycles. However, we must first acknowledge the toll that these current political cycles levy on America and then take the necessary actions to rectify them.

The most popular political cycle is called the “election cycle.” The election cycle’s flow is analogous to the lunar cycle: as soon as one lunar cycle ends, the next one begins. But unlike the lunar cycle, the election process is faltering badly, and no current political cycle explains why. A more informative political cycle is necessary if we are to end the out-of-control election cycles that are causing voters to lose faith in American politicians and the political system itself.

Although political cycles occur in every American city and state, the Chicago corruption cycle is the most blatant political cycle in need of change (see illustration below). The Chicago Democratic machine has actually created a political cycle solely to serve its members, not the people of Chicago or Illinois. Chicago’s self-destructive political cycle allows machine hacks to do whatever they desire without being held accountable for their actions on election day.

It is despicable to know that as fines, fees, and taxes increase and government services decrease, machine politicians are more secure in their jobs at the end of their election cycles. To insure their reelection, machine honchos repeatedly craft election laws to marginalize and eliminate their political competition.

The Chicago Way: The Never Ending Cycle of Corruption

(Click on illustration below to enlarge view)



The Chicago Machine Denies Non-Machine Candidates Ballot Access

A high percentage of machine candidates run unopposed, proof that the machine has been deliberately marginalizing or eliminating its political competition. Between 2004 and 2010, 52% of the Illinois state Senate candidates ran unopposed and 58% of the House of Representative candidates ran unopposed when the Chicago Board of Elections (CBOE) conducted their elections. The total percentage of state senator and state representative candidates who ran unopposed between 2004 and 2010 is 60%. A growing number of citizens are fed up with state politics and want to participate in government. But because of Illinois’ restrictive ballot access requirements, they can’t even get on the ballot to exercise their free speech and campaign as a state legislative candidate.

There is a trend toward a higher percentage of state legislative candidates running without opposition. In the last two elections (2008 and 2010), 67% of the state House of  Representatives candidates did not have an opponent. In the last election (2010), 67% of the state Senate candidates did not face a challenger.

The percentage of candidates who are running unopposed in the November 6, 2012, election is currently unknown because the CBOE has yet to make public the ballot. There will most likely be an increase in state legislative candidates running unopposed since the CBOE denied nine Republican candidates ballot access. The CBOE invoked a new Illinois law that state legislators purposely passed to purge themselves of political competition. The law states that when a political party appoints a candidate to run for office, the candidate must also submit signatures from registered voters. The nine Republicans did not make it on to the ballot because the CBOE invalidated 72% of their signatures.

The Machine’s State Legislators Control Chicago’s Election Laws 

The machine runs both houses of the Illinois General Assembly. Chicago Democrat Michael Madigan has been Speaker of the House for 27 years. Another Chicago machine Democrat, Senator John Cullerton, is President of the Illinois state Senate. Together Madigan, Cullerton, and their minions pass Illinois election laws to aid the Chicago machine.

The machine discovered that what works to eliminate political opposition for state legislative candidates also works to eliminate political challengers who want to run for Chicago offices. Shortly before the 2007 Chicago elections, the Illinois General Assembly doubled the signature requirement to run for the Chicago City Council from 1% to 2%. State legislators deliberately increased the signature requirement two-fold because they wanted to reduce the number of non-machine candidates who were challenging the machine’s candidates for aldermen.

The Illinois General Assembly established a 12,500-signature requirement to run for mayor of Chicago. The City of Chicago’s 12,500 signature requirement is outrageous, especially when it is compared to the signature requirements of other major U.S. cities. Houston–which is the city with a population closest to Chicago–does not require candidates for mayor to submit any signatures to get on the ballot; Houston candidates are only required to pay a $1,250.00 filing fee. Though Los Angles has a population of one million more people than Chicago, a Los Angeles candidate for mayor needs only 500 signatures plus a $300 filing fee, or 1,000 signatures and no filing fee to appear on the ballot. In spite of the fact that New York has about three times as many people as Chicago, New York only requires 3,750 signatures to run for mayor. Chicago’s 12,500- signature requirement eliminated at least ten non-machine candidates who wanted to run for mayor in 2011.1

Once unfair election laws put the machine bosses back in their City Hall or Springfield offices, the Chicago corruption cycle and plundering of taxpayers’ money start all over again. Holding fair and competitive elections is the obvious way to end Chicago’s self-imploding political cycle. But that won’t happen anytime soon because the machine honchos are still the ones in charge of Chicago and Illinois’ election laws.


About Jay Stone

Mr. Stone’s passion and interest in cycles led him to author the book “Sacred Cycles.” Stone’s book explains human growth and development in terms of cycles. He believes any negative cycle can turn positive if the individuals and groups involved in the cycle work to make it happen.


1. Jay Stone currently has a federal court ballot-access lawsuit pending, challenging Chicago’s 12,500-signature requirement (Jay Stone et al. v. The Board of Election Commissioners for the City of Chicago). His federal court attorney, Christopher C. Cooper, has been doing an outstanding job representing Mr. Stone and the lawsuits’ other plaintiffs.