Tuesday, April 7, 2015

A Wrecking Ball: Chicago's Runoff Election. When Miley Cyrus Met Rahm Emanuel

Chicago's runoff mayoral election is today.

When talking about the "Arab World" one of the tired Western media pundit cliches has long been "what does the Arab Street want?"

I am a man of the people who alternates between the shoe leather express and the Chicago Transit Authority's buses and trains.

Like I wrote about here, a similar principle holds in terms of measuring organic public opinion in the public sphere at the site of communicative democracy: what are the People telling and saying to us on the streets, while riding mass transit, sitting in the barbershops, and moving about and congregating elsewhere?

A black brother was working hard on elevated subway here in Chicago. He was politely and enthusiastically handing out campaign flyers for Jesus "Chuy" Garcia that depicted sitting mayor Rahm Emanuel as a type of Miley Cyrus figure, straddling a wrecking ball, as he destroys the city.

The brother was also a pragmatist: a black man working to unseat Rahm Emanuel for a Hispanic candidate is one more signal to the sea changes in America's political demography.

[I worry, what does the future hold for Black Politics as Hispanics and Latinos assert themselves? 

Moreover, what will happen as some of the latter are grandfathered into Whiteness and fully (and publicly) embrace anti-black animus as the price of admission into that semi-exclusive club?]

I have no great enthusiasm for either Jesus Chuy Garcia or Rahm Emanuel. But, I will be voting my pocketbook and immediate experiences with a city that has continued to go up on mass transit fares, cut services, and protected white neighborhoods and rich folks (especially their schools) from any sense of "shared struggle" in a time of manufactured "economic crisis".

Rahm's runoff is being heralded by some as a sign that the American people are sick of neoliberalism and how the banksters have reorganized public and private life to their own advantage at the expense of the working, poor, and middle classes.

I am not the enthusiastic about what this challenge actually portends. I am more basic and quotidian in how I read the classic saying that "all politics is local". While the polls suggest that Rahm will win another term, I hold out hope that there are enough people who are disgusted by the state of the Chicago's basic services and balancing of the budget on the backs of working class and poor folks--many of which are black and brown.

The good social scientist in me says that Jesus Chuy Garcia is dead on arrival. The dreamer hopes otherwise.

For you who watch national and big city elections, what do you think Rahm's runoff portends? Are the People sick and tired of being sick and tired of the Democratic Party's embrace of a type of "soft" neoliberalism or is this just a bump in the road as the United States and her elites idolize, and thus surrender to, a type of Singapore-like authoritarianism and surveillance society?

Predictions about Chicago's elections?


kokanee said...

I can't stand Rahm Emanuel. When Obama first put his team together, he surrounded himself with a bunch of progressive liberals. Rahm then cleaned house. Don't know who ordered it or who wanted it but Rahm had no problem with the purge. Rahm's also a bully and an A-hole. He hasn't been good to the middle class on down. He shouldn't be rewarded for his authoritarian neoliberalism but he's clearly ahead in the polls. Unfortunately, I bet most Americans have never even heard of the term neoliberalism and those that have don't know what it means. There is some hope that Chuy can win if he can get out the vote. Spring break is on his side. Go Chuy! For what it's worth...

DanF said...

Tough call ... You have a motivated base behind Chuy, but the typically reliable voter (the ones who vote in off-year elections, run-offs, etc.) tends to be the middle class and up voter (probably for no other reason than better access to information and the ability to take the time off to go vote), and this cohort has not been adversely affected by Rahm's policies. It wasn't their schools that have been shuttered for profit. Oh ... and it's raining.

I'm hoping for Chuy upset and have given to his campaign even though I don't live in Chicago. But it will be an upset. I expect Rahm to win - but I also expected Kentucky to beat Wisconsin.

joe manning said...

Its a classic split between POC and HRC's "good white Americans." Lets hope enough poor folks and "classic liberals" cast off their "white" pretensions and vote for Chuy. Like de Blasio, a Chuy win would put the "liberal" back in neoliberal and throw a wrench into the political machine.

Gable1111 said...

A Chuy win would be a pleasant but highly unlikely upset. As much of an enemy Emmanuel is for the working class that make up the bulk of the voters, Chuy, IMO, has run a campaign that focuses on generating votes against Emmanuel. And although that case clearly exists, Garcia has not done a good job of communicating why they should vote for him. That's been difficult because of the 18 to 1 edge in fundraising Emmanuel has, the bulk of it coming from a few billionaires that allows Emmanuel to flood the airwaves with misleading ads.

This race reminds me of Washington vs Epton ("Epton, before it's too late") in a lot of respects. The reason we have the runoff, some speculate, is because the old Washington coalition is coming together against Rahm for many of the same reasons. Chuy just lacks the charisma, wit and articulation Washington had.

Black Sci-Fi said...

Rahm played the "Dumb Mexican" card and will still win among the divided progressive vote. And no, this isn't Washington vs Epton. Garcia is running with all the visibility of a 1st term alderman.The Garcia Campaign has failed to raise his visibility in proportion to the office he seeks and didn't even have a memorable campaign theme or slogan to make up for the lack of funds..
The lack of money is part of the issue for Garcia, but I also blame the lack of excitement generated by a lackluster grass roots campaign. And, of course, the Chicago media.....?.....crickets. The "Rahm is a pee-pee head" campaign slogan would be far more effective than anything I've seen coming from the Garcia camp.
I voted for Garcia even though the thought of having a mayor who wants to be known as "chewy" (major campaign FAIL)makes me cringe. Chewy is the guy you know from work who plays 2nd base on the company softball team, not the Mayor of Chicago, the 3rd largest city in The United States.
Again, branding is critical for an unknown candidate. Rahm hit him where it hurts by saying "Chewy" can't count and hasn't had any experience with a big budget.
Too easy...!!!

OldPolarBear said...

I have no idea, but the polling looks pretty grim for Mr. Garcia. To paraphrase Mr. Lincoln (well, sort of), I think that some of the people are sick and tired of neoliberalism all of the time; a lot of the people are sick and tired of neoliberalism a lot of the time; but I'm afraid that not enough people are sick and tired enough of neoliberalism yet enough of the time to cause an upset in this particular race.