In the end, we, the people of Illinois, will get the political reform we deserve. If we sit back and fail to speak out, we'll get more of the same -- peanuts. And we'll have no one to blame but ourselves.
That quote is from an excellent editorial from the Chicago Sun-Times in 2009. A mere two years ago. One that if you read it you think that the Sun-Times is trying to champion citizens. Those of us who watch the political circuses that have made us in Chicago and Illinois a punchline. Those of us who watch politicians collect pensions like Beanie Babies while those of us way lower the ladder get legislated against.
So when I read the Sun-Times endorsement of Rahm Emanuel, I kinda threw up in my mouth. Did they really try to sell us on him based on the fact that his career hasn't been in the city?
He has built his career in places far removed from the city streets — in corporate boardrooms, the halls of Congress and the Oval Office. This is where he has learned about public life. This is where he continues to look for insight and campaign cash.Oh, they sure did. Not Chico or Del Valle who have served this city with all their might, right here? No Emanuel who did serve his district which I once lived in, but did it from afar.But they said that too!
Our most serious reservation with respect to Emanuel, though we believe he has the makings of an excellent mayor, is that he may lack a feel for the real beating heart of the city.But we're supposed to trust him to continue to starve our public schools by using TIF funds for police officers and cater to charter schools where some accounting books would reveal more people getting rich than children learning.
Ultimately I believe that the Sun-Times chose Emanuel because of this:
Emanuel stands apart from Chico, however, in his relative independence from city contractors and unions. Because Emanuel largely made his career in Washington, he simply owes fewer people here.Union-busting. City worker benefits. Teacher contracts. Privatizing as much as possible. That's what the Sun-Times and Tribune endorsements are all about. Daley let the city fall so far people want to give up on themselves.
I highly doubt Emanuel owes less people than Chico. OK, maybe they don't all live here, but are all our city contracts only with companies in Chicago? Not so much. And let's not forget all the tax breaks the city gives Hollywood for blowing up things on our streets. I'm not against that last one, just pointing out that Emanuel's buddies in Hollywood CAN come a calling about what he owes them. He is owed a lot of favors too for his outstanding fundraising abilities. Perhaps that's why he has some personal endorsements too. For me, those are totally earned too. If I raise you a ton of money, you better pay me back when I need it. See, I'm not a total idealist when it comes to politics.
Other than Chico being wishy-washy on some issues, the Sun-Times fails to show why Emanuel is truly a better candidate. Can he bring the power of DC here? Sure. Can he fund raise the hell out of his competition? Oh hell yeah. Does that mean he deserves to be the next Mayor? For me, no.
And while I wasn't planning on voting for Emanuel anyway, the fact that he admitted that it was his idea to throw women under the bus for health care reform sealed the deal for me. I don't care if he had permission from Our Bodies Ourselves, Gloria Steinem and the ghost of Margaret Sanger! He crafted a strategy that pushed feminist and women's health care organizations into a corner. He was also the person who crafted the strategy to seek out conservative Democrats who started the ignition on the bus. You would think he could use that muscle of his to keep them in line on abortion rights. The muscle that I keep hearing people say that the next mayor should have. He may have endorsements from pro-choice organizations in Chicago, but the fact is that Planned Parenthood Illinois and Personal PAC also endorsed Chico, Braun and del Valle. So since they all have the pro-choice seal of approval, I think it's a moot point to make one's decision on based solely on endorsements.
In the end, on Tuesday night I'll be watching the returns and praying for the 49% line to hold. The 50% line would be too much for me!
Citation: Since the Sun-Times has a poor archive system, I used LexisNexis. If you want to read the full editorial, here is the citation: April 29, 2009. "Time to stand up to end corruption" SECTION: EDITORIALS; Pg. 26