The Importance Of Dennis Hastert In American Politics And Why Trust Should Never Be Granted To A Politician

Dennis Hastert as the Ideal

August 12, 2016

Allan Stevo

The first Republican US Congress in 40 years came into DC in 1994 on the Contract with America, with Newt Gingrich as Speaker of the House, the title of the person who presides over the lower house in the American legislature.

After Newt Gingrich’s fall from grace, from January 6, 1999 – January 3, 2007, for the first decade of this millennium one of the most important people in national politics was Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert – third in the line of succession for the Presidency of the US, the man who ruled the lower house of Congress and made Bush Administration bills flow smoothly through in a post-9/11, pre-Tea Party era of Republican Party unity. Today Dennis Hastert will go to jail a convicted child molester for acts committed decades ago.

The Victims

There were boys abused. They are truly victims in this and I hope that Hastert’s actions were not too damaging to them and have not prevent them from living full, happy, healthy lives. Forgive my weakness, but about that matter, I prefer not to know the details. Though terribly wronged, those are not the wronged people I will focus on today.

The Incentive Structure

An important concept to recognize when discussing the impact of human behavior in any system is one of incentives, in this situation I am specifically concerned with how the political system works.

Contrary to popular belief, men like Dennis Hastert are exactly the kind of men American politics needs more of. There is a constant demand for them in a patronage system of government like the one known throughout my homeland of Illinois and all the way up to the federal level.

There are incentive systems in place to help men and women of questionable pasts secure office.

These are the men American politics needs. Some men can be bought. This describes at least 90% of politicians. This “buying” may be a favor, a friendly request, a job for a friend or relative, the understanding that campaign donations are meant to facilitate cooperation or a host of other methods of making an exchange. The more developed campaign finance laws become the more sophisticated the ways of buying a politician become.

Some men are nearly useless in the patronage system because they can’t be bought. I figure Ron Paul and Ralph Nader, fit that category based on the many years of their mettle being tested in that way, and possibly upstart flavors of the day like Bernie Sanders or Donald Trump might as well prove similarly over time to be incapable of being purchased. I’m unsure.

In the incentive structure of the American patronage system, far better than the men who can get bought are the men who can get blackmailed.

But politicians for high office get vetted, you insist. Democratic elections are a crucible that sifts out the bad. Hastert is a prime example of how untrue that is.

There were other victims in this process that are the unseen victims.

300 Million Victims

What did the American people lose out on by Dennis Hastert trying to cover up this sex scandal? Sex is probably the wrong word, as it indicates consent. What did the America people lose out on by Hastert trying to cover up his secret life of being a pedoscele? When did he vote out of fear? What did he do out of fear? What other dark secrets are being held in DC motivating policy decisions that do not support the interest of Americans voters, but are sold to us fervently by liars attempting to keep dark secrets covered up? How much more smoothly DC must be working right now with Dennis Hastert in jail – because if that can happen to Dennis Hastert it can happen to anyone, Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, Mitch McConnell, Paul Ryan all the way down to the dog catcher. What do the American people lose by concentrating so much power in so few hands with such terrible incentives against doing good and then sit back and pretend that politicians are to be trusted?

What Motivates A Politician & Should They Be Trusted ?

What motivates a politician? We can never be sure. We do not know that person’s soul. I wonder if those closest to Dennis Hastert, like his wife Jean Kahl, even knew about this secret.

Today it is so common for a person to talk about “trusting” a politician. It is important to remember how unearned such trust is if you do not even have a personal relationship with a politician and how unearned it may be even in the case where you do have a personal relationship with a politician, like in the case of Hastert’s family members.

Our system encourages 1. sociopaths, 2. those seeking to be bought, and 3. those with a terrible secret to hide to advance through the ranks of government.

I have a hard time seeing how such an incentive system benefits the American people.

Allan Stevo writes on Slovak culture at He is from Chicago and spends most of his time traveling Europe and writing. You can find more of his writing at If you enjoyed this post, please use the buttons below to like it on Facebook or to share it with your friends by email. You can sign up for emails on Slovak culture from 52 Weeks in Slovakia by clicking here.

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