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2/24/2011
CHICAGO’S ONE PARTY DICTATORSHIP CHOOSES NEW LEADER

Something a little different today. My latest is up at PJ Media and it’s pretty much of a full-throated rant against the Chicago Machine and its pretensions to democratic forms.

A sample:

I wouldn’t actually call it an “election.” That would suggest there was more than one side who would benefit by a victory.

The truth, as it usually is, was a little more prosaic: the city of Chicago chose another politician to head up the corrupt Machine that has dominated politics in the Windy City for nearly 80 years. Former White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel became the city’s 46th mayor and first Jewish leader. He succeeds Richard M. Daley who, together with his father Richard J. Daley, ruled the city, the county of Cook, and the state of Illinois for all but 14 of the last 55 years.

The Machine is also known as the “regular Democratic Party.” There is nothing “regular” about it. It is an obscene blight on the idea of representative government and republican principles. The 95% Democratic vote cast last night are the kind of numbers Soviet leaders used to get in their “elections.” Hugo Chavez doesn’t do as well in his rigged contests.

The fact of the matter is, Chicago is held in thrall to a one-party dictatorship as firmly ensconced in power as any banana republic dictator. The enforcement mechanism is not an army or secret police (although the Machine has been known to play rough on occasion), but rather a network of ward bosses, corrupt businessmen, the odd mobster, and those who owe their livelihood to the party in power. The uniting expedient behind the Machine is money — taxpayers’ money — that is fleeced in many ways, both old-fashioned and novel.

The current Machine replaced the fractured ethnic amalgam of rancorous factions from the 1920s that was not only corrupt, but under the thumb of brutal, murdering gangsters. At least the new Machine had the decency to keep the gangsters off of the city payroll — most of the time — while assigning them a lesser role in the city’s hierarchy. Today, “the Organization,” as the mob is called, stays quietly in the background, sticking their fingers in several legitimate pies while generally refraining from carrying out their wet work inside the city limits. Today, most Chicago gangsters die in their beds or in prison.

Once Emanuel has his hands on the levers of Machine power, he is, in effect and for all practical purposes, Mayor for Life. The Machine may not have quite the influence it once had in that the mayor will not be able to crack his whip and have 13 subservient congressmen doing the bidding of a Democratic president as Daley the Elder could claim. But when it comes to elections — local, state, or national — the Machine is supreme. A steady flow of patronage jobs, city contracts, and outright bribes maintains the loyalty of ward bosses and ward heelers alike.

It is fair to ask what are the consequences of this smothering of alternative ideas to address the challenges faced by the city? Failed schools, failed mass transit, failed crime prevention, failed economic opportunities, failed protection of neighborhoods, failed prudent use and protection of the taxpayer’s money…

Failed, failed, failed - a legacy of nearly 80 years of one party government. Citizens are cowed into submission. “Reformers” are co-opted or absorbed. The press - cynical to a pathological extreme - views the entire situation as a circus; entertainment, not a political tragedy. Reporters vie with each other to come up with the most amusing, the most shocking, the most world-weary tone to their stories and receive prizes for their abdication of media responsibility.

What saved Chicago in the past was a unique dynamism among its entrepreneur class. Starting a decent sized new business in Chicago is a minefield, requiring the services of a lawyer who can help the new business owner navigate through the labyrinthine maze of paperwork at city hall. Despite this, Chicago keeps re-inventing itself economically which has saved it from the fate suffered by Detroit and other dysfunctional cities.

But that energy is dissipating as most businesses are giving up and moving out of the city - and soon, the state - as taxes continue to skyrocket and the nuisances of activists and politicians make it near impossible to make a decent profit.

I am not given to ranting but watching the returns on Tuesday night made my blood boil. The Machine not only takes care of its own but actively seeks to keep opposing or alternative ideas from being discussed in an open electoral arena. The result is the continued steady decline of a once great city.

Democratic and Republican administrations over the years have failed to dislodge the Machine’s chokehold on democracy. In fact, the Machine could have just as easily been a Republican dominated outfit rather than the Democratic party apparatus it operates as today. Party labels are irrelevant when the democratic forms are short circuited as they are in Chicago.

It would be heartbreaking if it wasn’t so maddening.

By: Rick Moran at 9:05 am
One Response to “CHICAGO’S ONE PARTY DICTATORSHIP CHOOSES NEW LEADER”
  1. 1
    Maggie's Farm Trackbacked With:
    5:24 am 

    Friday morning links…

    Review of Saul Bellow’s letters, at TNR
    The average female face, by country. h/t Thompson
    I studied Dead White Males at University - you got a problem with that?
    What will the Episcopal Church do with George Washington’s church?
    The NYT Magazine…

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