Listening to Rahm Emanuel declare victory Tuesday night in his electoral bid to become the replacement for Mayor Richard M. Daley, I couldn’t help but laugh.
Emanuel went into a nasally ramble about divisions within our city, and how he saw his campaign for mayor as an effort meant to unite the people of this city. In short, he is the candidate who brought Chicago together as one.
The simple fact about why Emanuel was able to take roughly 55 percent of the vote in a six-candidate field was because of the fact that many Chicagoans are more than comfortable with the status quo in the city.
Either that, or we’re just so clueless about how anything could ever change.
Many people were looking for a new mayoral candidate who would behave in a manner similar to the old. In short, we want Mayor Daley Lite, at least until we can get a third-generation Daley to run for the political post some day.
IF IT READS like I’m writing that Gery Chico, Miguel del Valle, Carol Moseley-Braun, Patricia Van Pelt-Watkins and William “Dock” Walls scared off too many people by talking about change, you’d be correct.
Ideally, we probably wanted Daley himself to seek another term in office – thereby extending his already-record-setting stint as Chicago mayor. For those people who have been saying that Daley decided to retire because he realized his time had passed and that he was vulnerable, I’d argue Emanuel’s overwhelming electoral victory is evidence they don’t have a clue what they’re talking about.
Which is why Emanuel went out of his way to let people know he’s not going to take a radically different tack from Richard M. He’s going to tout the city establishment and be sympathetic to the business interests, regardless of who complains.
For all I know, he may start recycling the famed rhetoric of the original Mayor Daley, whose stock line to activists who complained was to inquire, “What trees did they plant? What have they built?”
WHEN SPEAKING OF the son, Emanuel said Tuesday, “Nobody has ever loved Chicago more or served it with greater passion or commitment. This city bears his imprint and he has earned a special place in our hearts and our history.”
Of course, the election of Emanuel also cements the ties between Chicago and the current administration in Washington. Barack Obama, whom all the other candidates seriously believed should have been on their sides in this campaign cycle, issued his own congratulations upon learning of Rahm’s electoral victory.
This had better mean that our city has some special clout within the halls of the District of Columbia – particularly since Emanuel’s replacement as chief of staff to the president is Daley brother William.
Another sign that this election cycle was about maintaining the status quo may well be the horrid Election Day performance of Moseley-Braun, who reportedly got 8.7 percent of the vote – finishing fourth.
SHE GOT BEAT by del Valle, who was the candidate that many political observers were convinced was kidding himself and wasting everybody’s time with his presence on the ballot, while Moseley-Braun was supposed to be the candidate who would turn a run-off election (which we will not have to endure, and for that we should be eternally grateful) into a racial brawl a la 1983.
So much for the idea that we’re going to see an African-American official as mayor any time soon. Although I must admit to getting some kicks out of the solid performance of Chico, the Mexican/Lithuanian/Greek-American who put up a campaign that was competitive with the juggernaut amassed by Emanuel that prevailed on Tuesday.
Then again, that Latino population has been growing (statewide, there are more Latinos than black people ) to the point where it can no longer be viewed as an automatic disqualifier that a candidate’s family has ethnic origins in a Latin American nation. A united Latino front certainly helped state Rep. Susana Mendoza, D-Chicago, in her gaining of 60 percent of the vote to become city clerk.
Why do I suspect we’ll see a Latino candidate elected as mayor of Chicago before we see another African-American person win that political post.
I MUST CONFESS one other thought, although I will be the first to admit that it is somewhat juvenile for me to feel this way.
When I heard Tuesday night that Emanuel had done so well at the ballot box that we weren’t going to need a runoff election on April 5 to pick a replacement for Richard M. Daley, I felt joy.
Not because I was really that enthused about Emanuel.
If anything, the sentiment I felt toward Rahm was similar to what I felt toward the 2008 presidential aspirations of Hillary R. Clinton. Had she been able to win the Democratic nomination that year, I would not have been upset because I know her presence on the ballot (and the very notion of Bill Clinton returning to the White House in any capacity) would offend so many conservative ideologues.
THOSE SAME PEOPLE were among the hardest-core ABRs, voting for Anybody But Rahm in numbers too inadequate to boost any campaign to victory over Emanuel.
The idea that those ideologues are now in a serious funk over the fact that Emanuel continues to have a political life despite being affiliated with Obama and the Clintons makes me think that all is right with our society.