"There is always a philosophy for lack of courage."—Albert Camus

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Race is the thing?

Chi Sun-Times columnists Mark Brown and Mary Mitchell see mainly race in the Cook County board presidency race.

The political divide between Chicago residents and Cook County suburbanites -- and between blacks and whites -- was on stark display

said the one.

[T]he outcry over the way Todd Stroger [aiming to succeed his stroke-disabled father] ended up on the ballot resulted in a [black] backlash and cranked up loyal Democratic ward bosses,

said the other, even if nobody knows better than blacks "how poorly county government is working."

Mitchell is saying blacks also know better than anyone else how to cut off their noses to spite their faces.

[T]hese are the people who can tell you in great detail what improvements are needed at Cook County Jail because a disproportionate number of African Americans have relatives locked up there.

A lot of African Americans can also point out the failures at John H. Stroger and Provident Hospitals because many black families have depended on these hospitals for medical care over the years.

And, unfortunately, the faces of the youth detained at the Juvenile Detention Center are also overwhelmingly African American.

It didn't matter, says Mitchell, because inheritance works for others, mostly white, and they bowed to "the tit-for-tat factor." That's dumb, but Mitchell doesn't say so, letting it go at presumably informed analysis.

The most she allows herself, and we should appreciate her restraint, is to hope Todd Stroger "comes into his own" as board president.

As for Brown, it's not new that blacks and whites vote differently, "but there had been signs in recent years that [a city/suburban, black/white split] was starting to fade as Democrats increased their numbers in the suburban areas."

Not this time, when corruption was the dividing issue. It bothers him to see the vote "break down along racial lines" for any reason, however. Why? Because "no matter who wins, [this election] has disrupted the alliance that I think has produced the best results for Chicago and Cook County residents, that being the collaboration of progressive white Democrats and African Americans, often in conjunction with independents and Republicans."

The best results? Not for residents and users of county jail, hospitals, and juvenile detention center, per Mitchell. He worries that this racial divide will interfere with defeating Richard Daley for mayor. But rather than enabling Daley, it demonstrates Daley power.

In any case, he entertains nothing like Mitchell's fond hope for young Stroger, expressing his own fervent hope that "nobody actually expects [him] to bring real reform to county government." In this he also parts company with his own paper's deeply mysterious editorial board.

5 comments:

Tom Van Dyke said...

I've lived on both coasts and in three corners of the US---only been to Chicago once. But the racial divide there was palpable, and seemed to combine the worst of the south with a veneer of northeastern egalitarianism.

Which makes no difference politically, of course, since Chicago votes monolithically Democrat regardless.

Matt Huisman said...

You forgot to complete that last sentence.

...Chicago votes monolithically Democrat regardless… of what votes were actually cast.

Voting in Chicago has almost reached 3rd world status. I fully expect to see within my lifetime a U.N. delegation sent in to monitor election results. (Apparently the $60MM repair of the electronic voting system was not enough to prevent, um, reporting delays from the pro-Stroger districts. Last minute voting surges weren’t necessary this time, but it never hurts to have a backup plan.)

As for the significance of the racial vote split, there is none. Significance that is. There is virtually no ideological difference between Democratic factions. This was merely a mild rebellion by some white suburban Democrats who felt Stroger stole the primary. (My favorite line from the article describes the tears shed over the disrupt[ion in] the alliance, which apparently was not at stake when Stroger was manipulating the severe stroke suffered by his father during the primary.)

At the end of the day, the black community (whatever that means) gets bailed out by Hizzoner (who now will be able to splinter the support of any minority mayoral challenger), and retains control (whatever that means) of a major political post. Of course, none of this will actually do anything for the black community, but at least they gain the psychological satisfaction of sitting at the table.

Matt Huisman said...

Update: Both major minority mayoral candidates (U.S. Rep Jesse Jackson Jr. and U.S. Rep Luis Gutierrez) have just announced that they will not be running against Daley next election.

Nicely played Mr. Mayor.

Jim Bowman said...

Picking up on Nice job, Daley part, his father appointed OW Wilson police commr. to deflect Summerdale police burglar scandal, and Wilson made a difference. But so far, the Daley admin and other scandals are achieving nothing like that. Son of Boss has other ways, times are different, etc.

Tom Van Dyke said...

Jim, I have no idea what you're talking about.