The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Chicago Mayoral Election:
Politics More or Less as Usual

Mar 30, 2015

On April 7, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel will face a runoff election against Jesus “Chuy” Garcia. Both are Democrats.

Many people in Chicago were excited that Garcia forced Emanuel into a runoff. Emanuel has earned the nickname “Mayor 1%” by closing schools and mental health clinics, privatizing services, increasing fees and tickets that fall on ordinary people, and handing over enormous tax breaks and subsidies to corporations.

Garcia seemed different. He spoke against the schools closings and privatizations and accused Emanuel of helping downtown at the expense of the neighborhoods. The fact that Garcia forced Emanuel into a runoff shows that people are fed up with the politics as usual that works against them.

But according to the not very reliable polls, it seems Garcia is falling behind. Maybe this is because Emanuel has spent ungodly amounts of money. Maybe it’s because he has the backing of the Democratic Party’s machine. But maybe it’s also because, in trying to appeal to middle class voters, Garcia has gone out of his way to seem “respectable” and “responsible.”

One example is Garcia’s answer when asked if he was too beholden to the Chicago Teachers Union. He said the city doesn’t have enough money for “the union to come out completely happy with any dealings.” And, because he knows the leaders of the union, he could sit down with them and get them to see the city’s position.

We don’t know why Garcia has dropped in the polls, or who is going to win. But we do know that for someone to run and really try to make a change, they would have to start by telling the truth: there is plenty of money in Chicago for decent schools, parks, roads, services, and to cover the budget deficit. We have to take it back from the corporations that have stolen it. And someone who wanted to be mayor in order to do these things would start by saying he would use every aspect of the office he could to help the population organize to put their hands on that wealth.