David Moberg has written a piece explaining why Illinois has been so corrupt for so long. Adaptability has a lot to do with:
Corruption has plagued Illinois politics since 1869, when three county commissioners, arguably the first convicted local politicians, accepted money for painting a public building, but only gave the structure a cheap whitewash. And since 1871 political machines have persisted in the state, despite vanishing in most other parts of the country, in no small part because they sacrifice ideology to the pursuit of money and power. Chicago's Democratic machine is the most famous and influential--but Republican machines thrived in Chicago before the 1930s, and they still do in its suburbs, like working-class Cicero and affluent DuPage County. They're even strong downstate, where George Ryan, Blagojevich's now-imprisoned predecessor, learned "pay to play" politics in his modest hometown of Kankakee. "We have very pragmatic, non-ideological politics," says University of Illinois at Springfield political scientist Kent Redfield. "It's all about winning and getting a piece of the action."