Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Vote Like an Egyptian -- Rahm Emanuel Elected in Chicago. (See Bodabag's comment below)

The news of Rahm's Emanuel's victory in the Chicago's mayor's face surprised me. It surprised me that it was news. My first thought when I saw it was: But this already happened, didn't it? Or, rather: Since there is no conceivable universe in which this could have happened otherwise, why is space being wasted on announcing that it has? This is the kind of election that's decided when the ballots are printed and the leading candidate fails to die during the campaign. And my next thought: So actual Chicago human beings really left their homes and apartments in the middle of a tough winter and possibly even made themselves late for work so as to voluntarily and individually help solemnize this Newtonian inevitability? Really? They put on gloves and boots and scraped off their car windshields just to make this profoundly predestined procedure technically legal? Boy, are they good citizens in Chicago, I thought, to do such a favor for this rich, powerful, connected man who needs no favors.


It all feels like something that used to happen in the Middle East.

Maybe we're taking up their slack.


  1. Are you saying that the power structure of our nation has become as predictable an lacking in democratic spirit as the regimes of the ME? If so, we have just done a better job of creating a facade of democracy. But all of this begs the question: Are people really capable of democracy?

  2. Yes, that is what I'm saying, I'm afraid. It's true in some cases, at least. Chicago elections are notorious, butt this one seemed cynical even by those low standards. The revolving door is on an elevator now: next stop DC, now back down to Chicago, now up again a few floors to the 'private sector' (which these days is code, in political circles, for an investment bank or a lobbying firm). As to the general question, I don't know that people as such were ever deemed capable for democracy. Only citizens were, citizens in the old sens. And though that status was often awarded (and withheld) for reasons we might not agree with these days, that doesn't mean we should dispense with the notion of citizenship entirely -- whis is what, functionally, we've done. I'm not talking about where you were born, either. I'm talking about who you are and what you are with respect to your capacity to meaningfully and responsibly participate in the government-selection process. I don't see us as culturally equipped nowadays to redefine citizenship for a new time, but I would like to see us make our best effort before we write off the whole project.

  3. Excuse all the typos in my comment, please, Jimmy. I'm a two-finger typist with a new pair of trifocals. Really.

  4. Live in Chicago and rahmies did not in fact brave the cold to vote with his zillions in campaign war chest he had offices in each ward, and every house that was voting for Rahm got a green early voting card that a campaign worker personally pre filled out had the voter sign and sent the election was actually wrapped up before the polls opened on election day. So it's all money