I don't really know Nathan Cooper, the Cape Girardeau Republican state representative who pleaded guilty to immigration fraud this week and said he would resign his House seat. Cooper's life will be forever changed. He has lost his license to practice law, he will likely face a three-year prison sentence and substantial fine and he will slowly slip into the shadows forever disgraced.
It's easy to say that greed alone lead Cooper to falsify visa documents to allow workers to enter this country for one of his trucking company clients. But surely it was not greed alone. Though the money that Cooper made from these illegal deals was a good sum of change, it was far from an amount you would think would lead someone astray. So I discount the greed theory.
I think Cooper and far too many others simply believe they are above the law. They believe the law applies to others but they somehow justify their actions. After all - Cooper must have thought - these were not terrorists he was assisting into this country illegally. The obvious problem is that if Cooper could get away with his misdeeds then someone else could do the same for a potential terrorist element.
History is awash with elected officials who bend the law. Granted, Cooper's actions had nothing to do with his role in the Legislature. That doesn't matter. He held a position of trust and he ignored the oath of office he pledged when he began representing the people of this state. That places his crime in a different category, like it or not.
But underlying this entire sleazy episode is a fundamental question. Why in this great nation must we import truck drivers? Yet we do in record numbers. Most of those workers are here legally and it's doubtful the trucking business could survive without their skills. But why?
Cooper is a Republican yet as we all know, greed and corruption are equal opportunity vices. His political affiliation is less important than the broken promises that will trail him throughout his life.
It is extremely important - if not absolutely essential - that a society holds trust in someone. But we've seen the broken promises from the clergy and the political arena. Those should be two of the bedrock positions in our social structure. But now, of course, we know that is not always true.
We know that all of mankind is somehow flawed. Perfection is a goal but rarely a destination. The real issue is that we somehow become immune to the broken promises because they surface so very often. This then breeds additional distrust in government at all levels. And "we the people" sit idly by and wonder why our lives are not improved and protected by those in whom we place our trust.
Nathan Cooper will soon be forgotten. But his legacy will survive in the minds of thousands who never knew him. He is just another in a long and growing list of elected officials who break our trust and our hearts every day. At some point, once again, "we the people" truly deserve better.