Don Harmon is not a stirring orator. And his speech last week in Springfield, on the occasion of his re-election as state senate president, had the sincere but expected “honored and humbled” phrasing that we’d expect.

What struck us though was Harmon’s direct acknowledgement of the legacy of political corruption that afflicts the state senate and all governmental entities in the state capital. This is not just past history. There are currently two members of the senate, both Democrats, whom Gov. J.B. Pritzker has implored to resign as they face investigation.

Speaking to both the incumbent senators and a flock of 16 newly sworn-in senators, Harmon said, “What is best for the nearly 13 million people who collectively call Illinois home? Be guided by that truth, whether it be politically convenient or not. If your motivations are elsewhere, the Illinois Senate is not for you.”

Those words are not going to change the hearts of politicians driven by greed, entranced by power, focused on self. But having the leader of the chamber say them out loud, on day one of a new session is meaningful.

It is a message that needs to be repeated. Internal consequences must be real. The alternative is more of the grim parade of federal investigations that pluck off the crooks one by one, tattering our faith in state government and reinforcing our earned cynicism.

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