Chicago wanted a liberal political machine. It got one. The last time the city had a Republican mayor was 1931 and the city council is run by Democrats. It’s not as if the left hasn’t had a chance to turn its words into deeds and run the city the way liberals think it should be run.
Except for one thing.
Chicago’s liberal machine broken beyond repair?
Liberal political machines have a proud tradition in America. Huey Long was a Democrat. So was Tammany Hall’s Boss Tweed. So were two generations of Daley mayors who raised the question of what matters more, the machine or the politician running it?
The problem is that there is nothing liberal about a political machine in Chicago or anywhere else. Liberalism is supposed to be about the freedom of the individual, an amusing irony given that it also endorses using the institutions of government to protect that liberty. Too often this means clamping down on freedoms like gun ownership, the right to your income, and the right to feel secure knowing that those living next door belong here.
Chicago has long been a haven for leftist machine politics, but now liberals have turned on their own creation, blaming the city government they created and revere. They have already handed the city’s 2.7 million residents unimaginable debt. Now they are stuck with a broke metropolis without a permanent police chief and a left wing mayor the activist masses want to get rid of because of his oversight of a system they helped establish.
Does anyone sniff the scent of hypocrisy here?
Imagine how bad things must be for the left to turn a police shooting into protests, demonstrations, and demands for the ouster of both Hispanic State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez and Rahm Emanuel, former flunky for their city’s favorite son.
Has Chicago’s political machine finally fallen to its own flawed liberal principles?
Liberals can tolerate political machine corruption
Corruption is entrenched in Chicago and Illinois government. Whether it’s the Chief Executive of the Chicago Public School System pleading guilty to accepting kickbacks, corruption in the governor’s office, or an official in charge of Chicago’s revenue-generating red light camera system “allegedly accepting cash and personal benefits totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars to steer $124 million in city contracts,”1 we can agree on one thing: Illinois does corruption right.
What happens when an inherently corrupt system intersects with a liberal political machine? In good times some people profit and taxpayers lose money. In bad times we still have corruption, but in this instance we also have an alleged cover-up, race, and the failure of transparency, the perfect combination to lure the left to the streets.
Leftist policing goals collide with transparency
The president’s 21st Century Policing initiative was designed to make it look like Washington is doing something about the kinds of problems coming to light in Chicago. Unfortunately, the goals of Obama-style liberal policing are diametrically opposed to how a city like Chicago is governed:
Promoting trust and ensuring legitimacy through procedural justice, transparency, accountability, and honest recognition of past and present obstacles.2
The final report of the president’s task force features a picture of Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy with a member of Black Lives Matter talking about mass demonstrations,3 the sort of protests that finally removed McCarthy from the picture altogether. The task force observed:
Citizens have a constitutional right to freedom of expression, including the right to peacefully demonstrate.4
The person for whom that freedom of expression is being exercised, Laquan McDonald, is achieving fame in death as the rallying symbol behind calls for leftist reform. The media, politicians, and pressure groups are joining forces to turn him into a hero and poster child for what happens when law enforcement spirals out of control.
No one is questioning the left’s denial of responsibility for the damage done by the city’s liberal political system, one that boasts sanctuary city protections while wringing its hands over urban bloodshed and empty coffers.
Is there a bigger denial afloat?
Biggest lie of the Chicago political machine
Part of turning McDonald into a hero is lamenting the circumstances of his life. Illinois Representative Bill Foster remarked:
We should all be working to ensure that Laquan gets the justice that he has been denied for so long and to end the cycle of poverty, abuse, and injustice that shaped his life.5
Poverty, abuse, and injustice is endemic in Chicago’s black community, something liberal politics addresses with the machinery of big government instead of individual and community responsibility. With violence in the city also the stuff of national headlines, the city’s liberal establishment has responded to poverty and injustice as a leftist machine does, with pleas for more money to set things right. Chicago may not be able to help its most at-risk residents, but we still have to feed the machine even while liberal activism calls for its overthrow.