Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Is the presence of Democratic Socialists in City Council really much change?

The concession by Deb Mell of her defeat for re-election to her City Council seat (the one held previously by her father since 1975) has some speculating about the significant change our aldermen will undergo.
RAMIREZ-ROSA: Head of new 'caucus?'

Particularly with the fact that this means there will now be six (out of 50) of the city’s aldermen choosing to use the political label of “Democratic Socialists” to identify themselves – rather than straightforward Democrats.

YET I CAN’T really see significant change in the ways of the City Council. Other than that there may be a few more loudmouths willing to refuse to speak in lock-step with the desires of the mayor.

Then again, with this new mayor who will take over May 20, these not-quite Democrats may well wind up being Lori Lightfoot’s biggest allies. Unless they decide they just want to be outspoken opponents of anybody who happens to be mayor.

Much of my own feeling about the idea of Democratic Socialists in the City Council is based on the fact that most of these so-called radicals (five of the six) are going to be members of the Latino caucus.

Jeannette Taylor, the new alderman of the city’s 20th Ward on the South Side, is an African-American woman. She’s the lone exception.

OTHERWISE, THIS DEMOCRATIC Socialist movement appears to be something that is a part of the Latino segment of Chicago. It could mean that paying attention to the Latino caucus will be the thing to do for individuals who want to see government officials who can’t get along.
GARCIA: If they challenge Chuy, that's radical

Yet that isn’t a radical idea.

If anything, the idea that Latino politicos aren’t a single, unified voice is nothing new at all. It is the reason why Latino political power and influence isn’t anywhere near as strong in Chicago as it should be.

The city’s Latino political people have always been something to be split into two groups – known informally as the Daley-type aldermen and the activist-type aldermen.

BASICALLY, THERE WERE those people of Latino ethnic origins who made the effort to become a part of the city’s government establishment – figuring that to become part of the system would ensure that the Spanish-speaking enclaves those officials represent would get their fair share of the municipal pie.
MELL: No more!

They were the ones who would ally themselves with the former Mayors Daley and be supportive – figuring that they weren’t a strong-enough entity on their own to be able to resist.

Then there were the activist types – the ones who figured that being too close to the Daley or their backers would merely prevent them from trying to advance their own goals for their communities.

If anything, watching the Latino caucus throughout the years has always been an adventure in political infighting, and seeing how the two groups would try to undermine each other’s efforts. Come Elections Day, they’d each be endorsing opponents to the other side – with hopes they could knock off some incumbents and shift the balance to their side.

NOW, IT WOULD seem that some people who would have been outspoken proponents of this latter-type group are giving themselves the formal label of Democratic Socialists – which, simply put, believes in the social freedoms of Democracy while thinking that the business principles of capitalism undermines any effort to achieve a Democratic society

Although there are times I wonder if the people who spew such rhetoric have merely spent too much time in their youths wearing those t-shirts with pictures of Che Guevara on them – without truly comprehending who Che was or what he meant.

I also think that those people who focus too intently on the “socialist” part of the label are missing the point – as I suspect the real Communists of the world would view the Democratic Socialists as the ultimate hostile enemy.

So is Socialism spreading to City Hall? Most likely, not really!

IT’S MORE LIKE the outspoken portion of the Latino caucus has given itself a new label, and has one ally amongst the council’s Black caucus. As far as the partisan split of the technically non-partisan aldermen, it is one Republican (Anthony Napolitano) along with the six (incumbent Carlos Ramirez Rosa, 35th Ward, Daniel La Spata, 1st Ward, Byron Sigcho-Lopez, 25th Ward, 33rd Ward, who beat Mell, Rossana Rodriguez-Sanchez, Andre Vasquez, 40th Ward, and Taylor) Democratic Socialists.
Still likely to be the same nonsense at City Hall
Which means that 43 of the aldermen still identify themselves as standard-issue Democrats. Most of whom can’t “play nice” with each other – meaning the City Council still has potential for political chaos, just like usual.


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