Wednesday, March 29, 2023

On Chicago's Mayoral runoff

A very long time ago, I sat in the 39th ward headquarters and watched George McGovern give his last pre-election speech on TV. And I began, inwardly, to cry. Not because he spoke eloquently and from the heart about what was at stake, about the lives lost and mutilated by a senseless war, although he did. I cried because it suddenly hit me. It didn’t matter. Justice, healing, stopping the slaughter – it didn’t matter.

What mattered was that George McGovern had a high-pitched voice and spoke like you imagined a teacher in a one-room schoolroom would.  He spoke to the better angels of our nature.  He was a loser.
Richard Nixon was a master in speaking to our fears and appetite for vengence.  He was a realist, the emperor of silent majority "normal".  He was a "capable administrator." He was a winner.  (Like Al Capone and tax evasion, he would be brought down not by his mass murders, but for common grift in violating the niceties of democracy.)

Last night I was hit once again by that same emotion as I thought of next week's election.  We're afraid of crime.  I get it.  We're all for the underdog, but uneasy about what might happen if the usual elite isn't in charge.  I get that, too.  Everyone loves a winner, and a guy only a handful of voters could stomach when he ran for governor has become the Great White Hope now that's he's running one-on-one against an uppity, Afro-American official of a powerful union.  I get that, as well.

That there are real differences in policy between the two candidates may explain why so many political establishment figures are falling over themselves to get on the Vallas bandwagon, but not the warmth of the embrace.  It takes a large dollop of basic dishonesty to make-believe you don't see the facts of a "life-long" Democrat who seems most comfortable exchanging MAGA slurs with far-right radio hosts, or the "able administrator" who tends to leave behind messes each time he jumps from city to city like a traveling salesman keeping one step ahead of a process server, or the "take-charge guy" who says he knows nothing and blames everyone else each time his campaign is exposed endorsing racist and offensive statements.  

The Paul Vallas supported by public education destroyer Betty DeVos and Trumpist FOP head John Cantazara?   The man who called Trump's impeachment a "witchhunt?  Hey, that's some other guy.  The false Dimitri.  

We want to be safe.  We want to be sure. And once we buy into a pitchman's spiel that his elixir is the only thing standing between us and affliction, we're disinclined to look behind the curtain.

So, yeah, I'm betting Vallas will win comfortably next Tuesday.  And, yes, a part of me will be relieved Brandon Johnson didn't get in.  The rest of me will just be disgusted.



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