Drop whatever you’re doing and read this essay on how Chicago’s civic government is a model for 21st century politics. It does for unmitigated gall what Barry Bonds did for home-run hitting, with about as much class and honesty, but it actually makes a lot of sense if you think about it.
Also, if Obama were to embrace Chicago openly and use it as a model of change, there’s no question that it would invite Americans to place Chicago under the microscope. I live here, but believe me, I don’t want our tax rate, school system and, in early 2008, at least, level of violent crime replicated elsewhere. . . . So perhaps the best, fairest way to frame Chicago as a model for change isn’t to look at the policy specifics — because they are unique to Chicago. The city’s government is a better example in structure and process than policy. And it certainly isn’t fair or useful to offer a choice between Chicago and the rest of America. Rather, the most informative way to frame the discussion is to draw the distinction between Chicago and Washington. Do the American people want to remain tethered to the political treadmill of personal destruction and political grandstanding? Do they think that Washington — that most dysfunctional of all major American cities — should continue to dictate to the rest of us how we have to be governed?
And that’s when it hit me–of course Daley’s Chicago is a model for America in the 21st century. It’s expensive, it doesn’t work very well, it’s been designed so it’s virtually impossible to fix without costly technical help, and yet it’s really popular.**
Chicago is the perfect product.
* Commenter petronius: “Chicago (and Illinois) is not ‘post-partisan’, it is omnicriminal.”
**I was going to say it’s like an iPod, which is pretty and seemingly very simple until it breaks, and then you take it to the Genius Bar and they ask you for an ungodly sum of money, only unlike an iPod it isn’t secretly easy to fix, by which I mean you can’t open it with a small flathead screwdriver and reseat the loose hard drive connector, metaphorically speaking.