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Does Rick Perry's guilt matter?

Rick Perry
Rick Perry
Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Texas Governor Rick Perry turned himself in Tuesday to face abuse-of-power charges. Currently the opinions on the matter range from he’s obviously guilty to he’s obviously innocent to his mugshot looks better than his governor portrait. The real question that seems to be on everybody’s mind is how it will affect his potential run for president in 2016.

That’s right, the thing that the media and political analysts are concerned with isn’t whether or not he had a corrupt administration. It’s not whether he sought to protect that corruption by selectively applying standards to some district attorneys but not others, mostly on the basis of which ones were investigating him. It’s not whether he has the ability to remove someone from a post for being arrested, or extort them using his veto power. It’s not even whether or not what he did was legal or ethical. The main concern in political circles is whether this will help or hurt his political run.

Disgusting as it is, that’s the type of discourse we now have in this country. When a politician does something shady, possibly illegal, the discussion immediately turns away from the facts of the case and moves right into his aspirations for the top job in the nation. The unspoken acknowledgement here is that even if he is guilty, he will not likely serve any type of punishment. The wealthy political classes often commit crime after crime and are rarely held to account. Some are even romanticized in the media and culture despite having a long history of crime, corruption, even killing people and getting off scot-free. But enough about the Kennedys, we’re talking about Rick Perry now.

The shame of it is that republicans will automatically back Perry and democrats will automatically go after him, regardless of his level of guilt. Did he abuse his power? Most likely, yes. That’s what politicians do. You’d be hard-pressed to find one who doesn’t abuse power in some way. When you have an oligarchical system with two parties full of rich millionaires who only agree on one thing: keep everybody else out of the system and ineffective.

The charges Perry faces could carry over 100 years in prison if found he’s guilty and given the maximum sentence.

Perry is a darling of the right wing, being strongly opposed to women’s rights, gay rights, and the environment. His positions on economic issues are a little more thought out, but he is ultimately of the far right wing of the Republican Party.

The fact is that the facts don’t matter in this case. The only thing that matters is whether or not the right wing candidate can spin this into a good thing or a bad thing and look good in his mugshot while doing so. This probably won’t be the wakeup call American voters need to stop voting for the same types of narcissistic, power-hungry politicians we get from the two main parties, but maybe it’s another step in that direction.

Those who have power will always seek to use that power.