In the wake of last Tuesday’s primary, I’ve decided to take a page from Dr. Freud and put Chicago’s voters on the couch, so to speak.
In other words, time to examine the numbers to determine what the results say about your collective political psychosis, Chicago.
Let the evaluation begin . . .
You’re in denial: In the middle of the campaign, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Chris Kennedy said Mayor Rahm’s planning policies were driving black people out of the city.
Kennedy was excoriated for his comments, especially in the Tribune, which called the remarks a “divisive fantasy.”
Well, this year’s voter registration numbers offer another indication that Kennedy was right. Registration continues to decline in the black wards—for instance, in the Sixth Ward, which includes neighborhoods like Chatham, it’s fallen by about 10 percent since 2008.
Meanwhile, citywide registration has stayed roughly the same since 2008. Most of the offsetting gains came in the South Loop and near west side—both among the areas that benefit the most from Rahm’s policies of gentrification.
Let’s face it, we all knew Kennedy was right. You can’t ceaselessly brag about gentrification—as Rahm’s done—and then pretend it doesn’t exist. Unless, of course, you’re Rahm. Then you do whatever you want.
You’re apathetic: On March 5, Jeanne Ives, Rauner’s right-wing opponent, held a press conference with 41st Ward alderman Anthony Napolitano to accuse Mayor Rahm of plotting to enable thousands of noncitizens to vote by handing out municipal ID cards.
Well, if Rahm really was up to such shenanigans, the turnout numbers show he did a lousy job. Only about 29 percent of registered voters turned out to actually vote. Yes, that’s up from the dismal 13.3 percent turnout in the 2014 primary, a particularly gloomy low point when voters were especially apathetic and alienated. But it’s roughly the same as turnout in previous gubernatorial primaries.
Think about it—29 percent, people? You know things are bad when that’s good.
The problem with democracy in cities like Chicago is that too few, not too many, people turn out to vote. It’s how Trump got elected. And Rauner. And Rahm, for that matter.
In short, Ives’s theory was hogwash—which, of course, didn’t stop her and won’t stop other Trumpsters from repeating it.
You don’t know how to get what you want: Citywide, the referendum on legalizing recreational marijuana passed with 73 percent of the vote. The trippiest ward was the 32nd, where it won 87 percent of the vote.
Of course, this was only an advisory referendum, and probably nothing will come of it—at least, for the moment, since both Rahm and Rauner oppose legalization.
In that way, it’s like the elected school board. The people want it, but they don’t get it. As opposed to Amazon‘s second headquarters—nobody even asked if we want that, especially with the $2.25 billion bill. But Rahm’s moving heaven and earth to bring it here.
You love to be loved: In February, the Tribune released tapes of a 2008 phone conversation between J.B. Pritzker and former governor Rod Blagojevich, recorded by the feds, in which both men said derogatory things about black elected officials.
Pritzker immediately went to west- and south-side churches, where, surrounded by many of his black political allies, he humbly apologized and threw himself on the mercy of voters.
Looks like it worked. Citywide, Pritzker won about 45 percent of the vote. But in the black wards, he won upward of 65 percent.
Just goes to show you what impassioned apologies can get you. (Along with tens of millions of dollars for around-the-clock commercials.)
You’re tribalistic: Or as state rep Kelly Cassidy puts it, “The progressive movement is a little pale.”
The gubernatorial candidate favored by most progressives—which is what white liberals call themselves these days—was state senator Daniel Biss. But Biss fared poorly in black wards, winning around 8 percent of the vote (he won about 27 percent citywide, coming in second to Pritzker).
This is a repeat from 2016, when Bernie Sanders lost the nomination to Hillary Clinton largely because she won more black votes.
Locally, the racial divide between natural political allies is another vestige of segregation. Harold Washington told us all about it in 1978, when he gave a speech warning white liberals that black voters don’t trust them and that they have to learn to look beyond the confines of their segregated communities.
I realize that these are difficult issues and progress takes time. But if progressive whites and anti-Rahm blacks plan to unseat the mayor, they’d better pick up the pace—the 2019 mayoral is less than a year away.
Your down is up and your up is down: Fritz Kaegi won the assessor’s race thanks to strong support from the Tribune‘s editorial page and big margins in the Gold Coast and Lincoln Park.
But Joe Berrios, the much-maligned incumbent, captured a plurality in the black wards, winning close to 50 percent of the vote.
Many theories abound—my favorite being that black voters instinctively know to be suspicious of any candidate favored by the Tribune. Actually, I’m the only one proffering that theory—but feel free to test it out the next time the subject comes up at a party.
Here’s more irony. Kaegi promised to eradicate the regressivity that’s built into the assessment system. If he keeps that promise, his Gold Coast supporters will pay more in taxes, while Berrios’s south-side voters will pay less. Effectively, Kaegi will be punishing his supporters and rewarding his opponents.
Kaegi and I have a difference of opinion on this matter, having discussed it on my radio show.
He says wealthy Gold Coasters won’t mind paying more in property taxes so long as they know the system is fair and transparent.
I say they’ll be howling at the moon if their property taxes shoot up. And that wealthy north-siders overwhelmingly voted for Kaegi cause they couldn’t take another minute of Berrios and probably figured he was making another one of those campaign promises that will be broken. Sort of like an elected school board.
Hey, Fritz—here’s hoping I’m wrong.
The Ben Joravsky Show airs from 2 to 5 PM Monday through Friday on WCPT 820 AM.