Our Common Good

Republicans may enjoy calling the president a typical Chicago politician. But Rick Perlstein argues that Obama isn’t Chicago enough—and that’s why he faces such a tough contest on November 6.

Obama’s Power Problem

THE OBAMA WAY: Republicans may enjoy calling the president a typical Chicago politician. But Rick Perlstein argues that Obama isn’t Chicago enough—and that’s why he faces such a tough contest on November 6.

By Rick Perlstein

(page 1 of 4)

President Barack Obama

Over the summer, the Republican Party made a strategic decision: The 2012 presidential election would be, in part, a referendum on politics in Chicago. The city where “politicians quite often end up as felons in jail,” as John Sununu, who served as George H. W. Bush’s chief of staff, recently noted. Where “paying off your friends,” as a spokeswoman for Mitt Romney observed in July, is the coin of the realm. In his keynote speech at August’s Republican National Convention, New Jersey governor Chris Christie put it bluntly: “The president is nothing more than a Chicago ward politician.” Just like Richard J. Daley.

Chicago laughed. Boss Daley and Barack Obama? You could write a treatise on their diametrical oppositions. One was born and died on the same block, among Irish Catholic carbon copies of himself; the other wrote an entire book about how he wasn’t even sure what continent he belonged to. One spent years patiently climbing the political ladder set out for him; the other was famous for jumping the queue. One did politics best in backrooms; the other exemplifies an age when politics is lived on the screen. One could hardly spit out a coherent sentence; the other is the greatest political orator of his generation.

Of course, there is another Chicago political tradition, one that Republicans don’t seem to know exists: the high-minded tradition of reform centered in the city’s Hyde Park neighborhood. “[Obama] represents the ideals of Hyde Park,” said the legendary reformist alderman Leon Despres not long before he died, at the age of 101, in 2009.

Both political traditions—that of the Democratic machine and that of the idealistic reformer—can successfully confer power. But what has become increasingly clear is that Obama has not harnessed the potential flowing from either. Indeed, the president’s biggest problem, come the election on November 6, isn’t that he’s too Chicago. It’s that he’s not Chicago enough.

Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) swung by a Chicago-area synagogue for a worship service on the eve of Yom Kippur last week, upsetting congregants and provoking one man to mount a campaign for her Democratic challenger before the end of the night.

The Chicago Tribune reports that Rabbi Michael Siegel of Anshe Emet Synagogue observed protocol by offering a customary greeting to Bachmann during the services. While elected officials are traditionally acknowledged during such events at the temple, the presence of the conservative Minnesota firebrand prompted particular displeasure.

Some reportedly walked out of the ceremony, while Gary Sircus, a 25-year member of Anshe Emet Synagogue, voiced more active opposition to Bachmann’s attendance.

"The holiness of the room and the holiness of the evening was greatly diminished for me, if not completely destroyed," said Sircus, according to the Tribune. “Our congregation values and embodies tolerance, compassion, respect for individual rights, intelligence, science — all of the things that I think Michele Bachmann stands against.”

[…]

Hours after storming out of the service, Sircus donated to Jim Graves, Bachmann’s Democratic opponent in Minnesota’s 6th Congressional District, and included a note.

"I felt that the best way to ‘honor’ Ms. Bachmann’s visit was to make a contribution to your campaign," he wrote to Graves. "Even though I do not vote in Minnesota, please do everything in your power to take away this evil woman’s soapbox."

The Graves campaign told the Tribune that it experienced a 400 percent growth in donations from the Chicago area last week, though it’s unclear if Sircus is to credit for this trend.

I cannot even imagine being in a room of 43 5 year olds without 40 other adults to help. I’ll probably have a nightmare about it tonight. ~SarahLee

socialismartnature:

(Photo) As of 9/10/12, all 28,000 public school teachers in the city of Chicago are on strike! They are fighting for better schools and learning conditions for their students, as well as job security and better working conditions for themselves.
Check out this publication by the Chicago Teachers Union for more info: “The Schools Chicago’s Students Deserve”

socialismartnature:

(Photo) As of 9/10/12, all 28,000 public school teachers in the city of Chicago are on strike! They are fighting for better schools and learning conditions for their students, as well as job security and better working conditions for themselves.

Check out this publication by the Chicago Teachers Union for more info: “The Schools Chicago’s Students Deserve”

socialismartnature:

Imagine what is your greatest fear in your lives, besides losing the people closest to you. For me, that was not being able to teach. And my fear came true this Friday. Five minutes after my last class, I was escorted by security from the school that I helped found, from a system I’ve worked in for 12 years…

We are not alone… As soon as I told people about my dismissal, I started hearing from people all around Chicago about how their position had been closed or redefined or they needed triple-certification to teach, and there was one thing that rang—these people were all really strong union activists…

If we didn’t have a union, you wouldn’t be hearing our story, because the only reason we are all here is because the CTU continues to fight for us.

Katie Hogan, a 12-year Chicago Public Schools teacher, described how she was laid off on August 24 by an interim principal who claimed Hogan’s position—as one of the school’s three English teachers—had been closed “for economic reasons.”

http://www.ctunet.com/

Chicago teachers have voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike in response to Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s demand for a contract extending their work hours by, in theory, 10 percent, but in reality significantly more, while giving them a 2 percent raise. The threshold for a strike authorization was that 75 percent of all teachers, not just of those voting on the issue, had to support striking. This was a policy explicitly put in place by Emanuel, the state legislature, and corporate education policy group Stand for Children to make a strike impossible. But nearly 90 percent of Chicago teachers voted yes, shattering what was supposed to be an impossible goal.

[…]

Chicago teachers are running straight into a buzz saw of corporate “reform” money aimed at breaking unions, extracting corporate profit from public schools, and putting kids’ actual interests way, way down the priority list. Teachers are fighting not just to be paid for their actual work hours but to keep a voice in what happens in the classroom. And if they don’t fight this, the inevitable result will be an acceleration of the dismantling of public education, taking resources out of public schools in the name of “choice” that doesn’t serve all children equally, putting decisions about education in the hands of billionaire philanthropists and for-profit testing companies.

occupyla:

”In a surprising turn of events, reports have emerged that numerous Chicago Police officers openly refused to arrest non-violent protesters – some officers even refusing to show up for work.”
 
“It’s just not right, ya know? I mean… uh… a lot of people think that every guy with a badge and a gun has a thing for lockin’ people up. But that really ain’t the case most of the time… I became an officer to help people, ya know? I didn’t sign up to throw kids in jail for taking pictures on their phones.. and I certainly didn’t sign up to.. uh… arrest war veterans exercising their right to protest… I mean, this is still America right?”

The team also wants a 50 percent cut of any increase in amusement tax revenue growth above 6 percent. And unlike the bonds, which would be retired in 30 or 35 years, that would be forever.

thesmithian:


Pass through security into the headquarters of Obama 2012, and the effect is like stepping into the world’s most high-tech dorm room. Spanning the entire floor of a Chicago skyscraper, the campaign’s nerve center boasts a ping-pong table, a staff of 300…They don’t use phones up here; most of the digital team weren’t even issued any. Instead, campaign workers communicate mostly by e-mail, G-chat and Twitter. Rows of young staffers, some perched on yoga balls, are quietly coding new online tools to engage supporters…and tracking metrics of volunteers recruited and new voters registered. An energetic hum fills the room, punctuated only by mouse clicks.

more.

thesmithian:

Pass through security into the headquarters of Obama 2012, and the effect is like stepping into the world’s most high-tech dorm room. Spanning the entire floor of a Chicago skyscraper, the campaign’s nerve center boasts a ping-pong table, a staff of 300…They don’t use phones up here; most of the digital team weren’t even issued any. Instead, campaign workers communicate mostly by e-mail, G-chat and Twitter. Rows of young staffers, some perched on yoga balls, are quietly coding new online tools to engage supporters…and tracking metrics of volunteers recruited and new voters registered. An energetic hum fills the room, punctuated only by mouse clicks.

more.



tumblrdems:

The College Democrats of America are excited to announce our 2012 CDA Winter Conference to be held on March 9- 10th in Chicago. 2012 will bring exciting new opportunities and challenges that we as youth organizers will face. We believe the first step to this success is forming new partnerships to better prepare our state and national leaders. CDA will be hosting joint trainings and sessions with the Young Democrats of America during our Winter Conference. This is our first time to collaborate with YDA, and we know our partnership will help pave the path to victory for Democrats in 2012. This year, more than ever, we are highlighting the importance of unity, collaboration, and strength.
RegistrationSignup for an OFA Headquarters TourApply for a State Convention GrantSchedule and Speakers
Hotel Information: Unfortunately, the room block at the Palmer House has sold out and we cannot expand it. If you would prefer to stay at the Palmer House you can either call them directly at (312) 726-7500 to make a reservation at the regular rate or look for deals on websites such as Kayak.com or Priceline.com. For inquires on other affordable hotels please contact Finance Director, Andrew Slade at sladea@collegedems.com
Learn more about previous Winter Conferences here

tumblrdems:

The College Democrats of America are excited to announce our 2012 CDA Winter Conference to be held on March 9- 10th in Chicago. 2012 will bring exciting new opportunities and challenges that we as youth organizers will face. We believe the first step to this success is forming new partnerships to better prepare our state and national leaders. CDA will be hosting joint trainings and sessions with the Young Democrats of America during our Winter Conference. This is our first time to collaborate with YDA, and we know our partnership will help pave the path to victory for Democrats in 2012. This year, more than ever, we are highlighting the importance of unity, collaboration, and strength.

Registration
Signup for an OFA Headquarters Tour
Apply for a State Convention Grant
Schedule and Speakers

Hotel Information: Unfortunately, the room block at the Palmer House has sold out and we cannot expand it. If you would prefer to stay at the Palmer House you can either call them directly at (312) 726-7500 to make a reservation at the regular rate or look for deals on websites such as Kayak.com or Priceline.com. For inquires on other affordable hotels please contact Finance Director, Andrew Slade at sladea@collegedems.com

Learn more about previous Winter Conferences here

anticapitalist:

A 12-hour occupation by workers at a Chicago factory on February 23 won an agreement that will save workers’ jobs for at least three months so they can seek other ways to keep their plant open and producing.

The factory on the northwest side of the city is the former Republic Windows & Doors plant, where union members occupied for a week in December 2008 after the previous owners and their financial backers, Bank of America, announced without warning that the factory was closing.

That struggle electrified the local and national labor movement, causing an outpouring of solidarity that stunned the bosses and bankers. After six days of the occupation, management caved. A new owner who promised to continue operations took over, and the Republic factory became Serious Energy.

On Thursday afternoon, the same workers whose courage three years ago inspired people around the country again heard that the next day would be their last day of work. They again turned to the tactic of the great labor struggles of the 1930s and occupied the factory.

But this time, they won a concession that saves their jobs for now before the dawn of the next day. Around 2 a.m.—with snow flurries starting to fall that brought back memories of the 2008 occupation—the 60 members of United Electrical Workers (UE) Local 1110 who remained inside the plant proudly marched out, fists held high, after an agreement was reached.

UE Local 1110 President Armando Robles, who led the 2008 occupation, told the crowd of supporters who assembled as soon as they heard about the new takeover: “We got more than we expected. Now we have 90 days to work and try to get somebody else to buy the company, with the possibility of the workers run it under our own banner.

LIKE A BOSS

NBC Chicago doesn’t dispute that it would have to run Terry’s ad—no matter how gory—if he were a legally qualified candidate. The station just isn’t persuaded that he really is. In a statement, the station explains that it is “in the process of evaluating the materials supplied by the candidate” to determine if he is a “bona fide” candidate. Basically, Terry must do enough old-school campaigning—making speeches, distributing literature, issuing press releases, etc.—to prove that his candidacy is not a stunt. Terry claims he has done so; NBC Chicago isn’t so sure.

The plans got a rise out of residents and the media, and helped keep the heat on Chicago to pass a Clean Power Ordinance