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Rick Perlstein Analyses The Chicago Runoff Election

This is turning into the most important progressive election in the post-2014 era, and a touchstone election as well. Everyone who touches it reveals who they are.

A version of this piece first appeared at Down With Tyranny. GP article archive here. My Tiny newsletter here

For those who want an up-to-date look at the state-of-play in Chicago's upcoming runoff election, there's no better analyst than Chicago's Rick Perlstein. Above is a conversation between Perlstein and RJ Eskow of The Zero Hour on what happened to Rahm and why we should be very optimistic about Chuy Garcia's chances of an upset. (Hint: Harold Washington.)

As you listen (warning: audio starts loud), be sure to note the reasons Garcia would make an excellent mayor, just on the merits. That runoff election, by the way, will be April 7 — not long off. If you wish to help out, click here to contribute.

Perlstein offers analysis regularly at In These Times, frequently as the cover article. Some in-city context from one of his latest pieces:

In Mayoral Runoff, Rahm Emanuel’s Corrupt Governance Has Finally Caught Up With Him

It’s become increasingly clear to Chicagoans that Rahm Emanuel is out for himself and his rich friends, not for us.

Perhaps what turned some voters against Rahm at the last minute—or motivated them to go to the polls in the first place on a cold Chicago day that started out in the single digits—was an Election Day exposé that appeared in the British paper the Guardian by investigate reporter Spencer Ackerman. “The Disappeared” revealed the existence of Homan Square, a forlorn “black site” that the Chicago Police operate on the West Side. ...

One victim was 15 years old; he was released without being charged with anything. Another, a 44-year-old named John Hubbard, never left—he died in custody. One of the “NATO 3” defendants, later acquitted on most charges of alleged terror plans during a 2012 Chicago protest, was shackled to a bench there for 17 hours. It “struck legal experts as a throwback to the worst excesses of Chicago police abuse, with a post-9/11 feel to it,” the Guardian reported. ...

But that's just the tip:

Indeed, the mayor faced a drumbeat of outstanding journalistic exposés all throughout the campaign.

Perlstein offers paragraph after readable paragraph of further instances. It's a stunning indictment, all forming part of this election story, all known to the voters. Perlstein ends, both in the video above (please do click; it's really listenable) and in the article, with great reason for hope:

In their way, these Emanuel [attack] messages, as misleading as they were, are heartening. This was Karl Rove’s trademark election strategy: attack, with brazen audacity, your opponents’ biggest, most taken-for-granted strength. In this case it was García and Fioretti’s unimpeachable probity, and the fact that they are out to help ordinary Chicagoans, not themselves.

This is not just a backhanded tribute to García’s integrity. It suggests a strategy for García to slay Goliath when he and Rahm go head-to-head in the April runoff.

This is turning into the most important progressive election in the post-2014 era. Obama tagged himself with Rahm support. So did immigration champion Rep. Luiz Gutiérrez, of all people. Not just a watershed election, but a touchstone election as well. (You can support the Chuy Garcia campaign effort here. Please do with my ex-Chicago-resident thanks!)

I wonder if the Clintons, either or both, will weigh in. After all, Rahm is their kind of guy, "free" market to the core, privatizer to his last retaliating breath.

If they do, remember — it's not just a watershed election; it's a touchstone election as well. Everyone who touches it reveals who they are.


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