Wednesday, April 8, 2015

So much for “La Revolucion,” we’re getting “four more years” instead

A part of me would have liked to have seen the concept of “Mayor Jesus Garcia.” It even might have been worth all the stupid Star Wars-related gags about a “Mayor Chewy” if Tuesday were to have been a major point in the political evolution of Chicago’s Latino population with a victory for Chuy.

But we’re not going to get that, it seems. The election results were so clear that Garcia made his concession call to Mayor Rahm Emanuel at about 8:30 p.m. – a quick end to what some wanted to believe would be historic election results!

THERE WAS MUCH rhetoric being spewed about how all those polls showing a blow-out election result for Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s re-election fantasies were a lot of trash. Political geeks without a clue as to real people, is what they were saying.

But the apparent 56-44 percent results we saw Tuesday night were about what those polls were showing. Although the key figure to comprehending the Election Day results was 40 – as in the percent of registered voters who bothered to show up to cast a ballot.

It may not be a record low (that would be the 2007 mayoral election where only 33.2 percent of registered voters cared enough to take a stance in what was Richard M. Daley’s last electoral campaign). It may be better than the 33.8 percent from the Feb. 24 municipal election.

But it still stinks!

THERE WAS LOUD, obnoxious rhetoric from those people who wanted to see a Mayor Garcia because he would have made a priority of a segment of the Chicago population that often feels ignored, if not outright neglected.

But the real mood of Chicago is that three of every five people who actually are registered and capable of voting didn’t care enough to take a stance. Let alone the other half of Chicago’s population that, for whatever reason, isn’t registered to vote at all.

The Latino Victory Fund (a national group that tries to bolster Latino political empowerment) can claim that Garcia, "energized the Latino community not only in Chicago, but across the country." But the bulk of us (some 80 percent) didn't care; and probably looked astray at those of us who did get all worked up. I can try to justify this in my mind by claiming that the people who voted earned their right to complain about government’s actions for the next four years.

I’m sure those who didn’t vote are still going to rant and rage on those occasions when some government action grabs their attention. We’re not going to be able to shut them up.

OF COURSE, THAT is something the Emanuel camp ought to keep in mind as they go through the next four years – they may want to think they won Tuesday’s elections by a large majority. But the bulk of Chicago didn’t support him.

The loud-mouthed ones turned out to vote for Garcia, who now gets to go back to the Cook County Board and serve out his term through 2018 as a commissioner from the Little Village neighborhood.

The rest couldn’t be bothered to cast ballots for anybody. Their apathy prevails.

Will Garcia be able to take his sudden burst of public attention from the past few weeks of campaigning and turn it into a higher profile? Could he become one of the people who actually sets public policy – instead of being a county commissioner who merely casts votes in favor of what the real powerbrokers decide ought to be done?

I WILL BE watching to see what becomes of Garcia; whose political career was once thought to be in tatters some 17 years ago when he lost his state Senate seat to a Latino official more willing to cow-tow to the desires of Daley.

Although perhaps we ought to keep out eyes on Emanuel as well; particularly to see if he really becomes a “kinder and gentler” version of the ogre that so many of us detest.

I found it amusing to see the Chicago Sun-Times reporting the possibility of Emanuel being considered as a potential Cabinet member should Hillary R. Clinton actually become president in the 2016 election cycle.

That seems a bit fantastical to think a one-time White House chief of staff would be willing to give up City Hall to take a lesser presidential post.

BUT COULD IT take conditions so extreme and outrageous for the mayor’s office to open up in a way that a “second coming” of Garcia could be coming if we have to pick someone to finish off the remainder (through 2019) of an Emanuel term?

Chuy may have a political future, at least in our dreams!


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