Monday, March 16, 2015

Is Garcia as competitive as ‘out-of-towners’ would have us think he is?

I read the out-of-town press whenever I can, particularly when they take it upon themselves to report on Chicago.

For oftentimes we’re so close to issues that we’re not capable of looking at the BIG picture. We may well have our own biases that we’re writing what we want to believe will happen – and NOT what likely could occur!

BUT A PAIR of stories published the end of last week in the New York Times and Washington Post strike me as being a bit of a stretch – almost as though someone is determined to believe that our upcoming mayoral run-off (22 days away, and counting) is more competitive than it truly is.

The Times would have us believe that Willie Wilson’s endorsement for Jesus Garcia is a major snub to President Barack Obama and the move that puts Chuy ahead of Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

Even though the most recent polls would indicate that this is the time when Emanuel is actually gaining ground and building up a big lead in support that could make him safe come Election Day on April 7.

While the Post took an angle that told us of how the African-American voter bloc is split because there are just so many black people who don’t want to buy into the idea of a man born in Mexico becoming mayor of Chicago.

IT’S THE OLD ethnic hang-up that some black people have. I’ll be the first to admit it is a real factor, and it doesn’t go one way. There are Latinos who go out of their way to avoid supporting anything that is black.

But reading these stories just gave me the impression of someone a little too far removed from what is happening here to appreciate the certain levels of nonsense that crop up every campaign season.

I’m not saying that the Times and the Post are both pushing fibs on us. I’m just not convinced that everything is as clear-cut as they’d have us think.

Then again, I’m remembering someone I was told once by an editor back when I was in college and was working as an intern for his publication. “Stories are about conflict. Nobody cares if everybody is on the same side of an issue,” he said some three decades ago.

AND IN THE case of the Chicago mayoral campaign, the fact is that our incumbent mayor is a nationally-known political figure. To them, the real story is if Emanuel winds up getting defeated by a political nobody – which is what Garcia is on the national political scene.

So if it means that signs of Garcia support are going to be taken more seriously than perhaps they should, then so be it.

Just as writing stories about ethnic and racial conflict in a political campaign certainly isn’t completely false. It’s not like there should be automatic support amongst different groups; unless you’re one of those types who views the world as “white people” and “other people.”

Then, you want to see a sameness that makes you the problem in our society.

BUT I’M ALSO not convinced that there is a major split amongst African-American voters. If anything, the evidence I have seen would indicate that Emanuel is actually taking a sizable share of the black vote.

Back on the Feb. 24 municipal elections, Emanuel won more votes in the African-American majority wards of Chicago than any other candidate. Wilson, for all the talk that he was the guy who deprived Rahm of a run-off election-less win, didn’t really take that much support during his campaign.

Which makes me wonder how much can he really offer to Garcia’s continued mayoral challenge? Even if the Times story had a cute anecdotal lead about how Obama himself urged Wilson to support “my boy Rahm,” only to have Willie say he’s supporting “my boy Chuy.”

These stories, and perhaps many others written by those not based in Chicago, may well be over-emphasizing the conflict that could seem a bit ridiculous if, come April 7, a large sense of political apathy (which I sense is the real trend spreading through the Second City) winds up creating a not-so-close victory for Emanuel.


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