Harrington Blog 1

Fingerpainting

by jharrin4

Rahm wins! Chuy says “we tried”. Right. Too bad more of those who had to most to gain or lose by either voting or not voting would have tried harder to get off their butts and cast a ballot for Chuy. Whom am I referring to? Certainly not the Loop area high-rise condo/apartment dwellers or Lincoln Park yuppies and Old Money corporatist types vested in the wink-and-nod pinky-ring wearers who are always welcome into that 5th floor office at City Hall

. No, I mean those denizens of the West and South sides of Chicago. You know, where the crime rates are so high, and kids dream of making it to puberty, not getting whacked going to or from school, or sitting on their stoops, or even in bed in their own homes. Where there are “food deserts”. Those neighborhoods where most of those 50 public schools were closed. If just another 6% of those in the mean streets of inner-city Chi-raq, those “people of color” would have voted for the minority dude, Chuy, then Mr.Mustache wins by a nose.

But they didn’t. How any working stiff African-American or Latino could vote for  The Pompous Patrician known as Rahm is beyond comprehension. I know Mr.Mayor managed to get some of the South and West side ministers and ward heelers to become shills for his campaign, but why would any of their constituents not see that thinking about themselves, instead of listening to the sell-outs with similar skin color, was very important to their lives?

As I said before, a Chuy win would have repercussions  both in Chicago and across the country. It was a major story when Rahm was held to 45% of the vote in the primary. How much bigger an actually victory? What happened to those other 10% who didn’t like Rahm in February?  They got converted? They believed the prevarications and downright fabrications in Rahm’s ads? They were too busy deconstructing how Wisconsin blew the title game on Monday night?

It was Chuy’s and those 55% who voted to force a runoff’s election to lose. And lose it they did.

Paint brush ballot? Nah. More like finger painting. Just dabbling. Idling away a little time. Hmm. Now stand back a few feet and admire the crappy results. But please, 55%-ers, do not complain. About any damn thing.

Meanwhile, in Oak Park, Illinois…

never mind.

Less is More

Just when I was disgustingly admitting that I had resigned myself to our country’s descent into a permanent oligarchy, with elections marinated in money and the public’s sheepish complicity in the matter, some momentary sunshine has peeked through the ominous clouds that shroud my political psyche. This bit of light came in the form of the Chicago mayoral election of February 24th, when the current corporatist Mayor Emmanuel, armed with a campaign war chest of more than 30 million dollars, was unable to garner more than 50% of the vote, forcing a run-off in April.

His four main opponents could have pooled all their campaign dollars and maybe come up with a few million bucks to buy some air time, so thus the prediction was that Rahm Emmanuel, who had been flooding the airwaves with self-congratulating ads for months, would easily swat away his pauper-like opponents and continue with business as usual: school closings, union-busting, social program budgets slashed, to name a few of his “achievements”.

Never mind that the mayor’s ads were revisionist in their distorting of this record, if not flat-out fictions; the public (far and wide) has been shown to not exactly think on their feet when it comes to making electoral choices. By now, it’s a common occurrence to have voter’s elect candidates who immediately strive to make their constituent’s financial lives harder while cow towing to the so-called 1%-ers. Ever heard of the book What’s the Matter with Kansas? It documents this phenomenon of voting against one’s best interest by succumbing to fear appeals and one-issue fervor. Hmm. What’s the matter with the mostly minority people of Chicago? Thirty years ago they got Harold Washington (an African-American) elected, beating not one, but two Machine Democrats in Jane Byrne and Rich Daley. Daley!

I was assuming that wasn’t going to happen again based on Rahm’s seeming underfunded, late-to-the party, competition, that money would talk as bullshit walks, and he’d casually cruise back up to the 5th floor of City Hall.

Not so fast!

Someone pinch me! Chuy Garcia and his 1.5 million dollar campaign drew 35% of the vote, and the other outsiders collected about another 20% of the vote. Thus the run-off. As a result I feel–for the first time in a long, long time–that the public may be shaking off its political stupor and seeing reality for what it is. Sure, it’s a drop in the national bucket as far as progressive positives go, but if Mr. Garcia can win outright in that run-off, it could embolden others to show up and vote for their interests rather than have big money lull them into the sleep of indifference or the curse of non-critical thinking.

Maybe it’s just a momentary blip on the right-wing radar screen of the Koch Brothers, Citizens United, Tea Party predatory capitalist control freaks. They’ll send out their expensive media war weapons to drown out any dissent, no doubt. But Chicago could be the clarion call that can be heard above the prevaricating bombast we’ve been exposed to for decades.

At least for Tuesday night, there was a genuine We the People moment.

The public needs to listen. Then they can make sure they’ll be heard.

For the time being, that sliver of sunshine will have to do, as springtime, rebirth and regeneration draws near…

 

Joe Harrington is a member of the West Side Greens and mass communication/speech instructor at College of DuPage and Triton College in suburban Chicago. Army veteran of the Viet Nam era.

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