Saturday, January 12, 2008

Political culture of Chicago

A great post from The Chicago Argus explaining the downstate personality clash between House Speaker Michael Madigan, Senate President Emil Jones, and Governor Rod Blagojevich. There's either a grudge between these three men or someone has gotten a chip on their shoulder because they weren't taken very seriously. Well's here's the gist of it...
A political operative allied with then-Illinois Senate President James “Pate” Philip, a Wood Dale Republican, once tried explaining to me why it is ridiculously na├»ve for people to ever expect politicians of Republican and Democratic persuasions to put aside partisan differences and work together for the good of the people.

His theory put blame on the political culture that absorbs Chicago city government and everything it comes into contact with. After watching the General Assembly try to provide adequate funding for Chicago’s mass transit programs, I’m starting to believe his GOP spin.

The problem, he said, lies at City Hall, where Democrats have dominated ever since the election of Anton Cermak as mayor in 1931 (a political trivia note; Chicago Democrats are possessors of the longest winning streak for a specific elective office in a country where legitimate Democratic elections are held.)

There may be Democrats running every single agency of Chicago city government, with Mayor Daley being all-powerful. But that doesn’t mean everybody gets along. Since the division of Democrats vs. Republicans is a non-issue (the city council these days is split 49-1, Dems-GOP), cliques are based on other factors.

For many years, they were based on race. Anybody who watched the City Council in the 1980s under then-Mayor Harold Washington remembers the significance of the numbers 29 and 21 (white aldermen vs. black, for those whose memories are short).

But they can also be based on neighborhoods (South Side vs. North), socio-economic class issues and petty power struggles run amok. My GOP operative said those rivalries were the problem.

Anytime a Republican legislator negotiated some sort of deal or compromise with a Democrat, he automatically picked up all of the Democrat’s enemies.

In the world of Chicago politics, enemies don’t just vote against you. They go out of their way to round up others to vote against you. Then, they try to make you suffer for your arrogance in trying to get something past them in the first place.

“It’s never a problem with the actual issue at hand, it’s always a personal slight with those guys,” the Republican said. “Somebody did something to insult someone or steal a girl away back when the two of them were working their way through law school at night, so they’re enemies for life.

“It’s just so much easier, less of a hassle, to not bother with the other side and try to do it ourselves,” he told me.
I must say that there just has to be a better way. Petty feuds obviously doesn't get anything done. Petty feuds keep you from being the big political hero that some of these politicians want to be.

The petty feuds from Chicago maybe the reason voters in Illinois are fed up with their government and may call a constitutional convention later this year. There maybe voter backlash against our political leaders this year. Hmmm now if this could mean a Republican resurgence this year, that isn't likely though.

1 comment:

Third Generation Chicago Native said...

That was a great post from The Chicago Argus. Thanks for sharing!

And definately the North Side, South Side tension is big.

Post a Comment

Comments are now moderated because one random commenter chose to get comment happy. What doesn't get published is up to my discretion. Of course moderating policy is subject to change. Thanks!