There are now 11 caucus members, instead of 8 a year ago. This growth is testimony not only to the progressive movement's recent election victories out in the wards, but to the rapid and near-total collapse of Rahm Emanuel's political machinery and personal credibility.
In the wake of the school closings and the Laquan McDonald scandal, the mayor's approval ratings are somewhere down in the 20s, and in the single digits in the black community where voters were largely responsible for Emanuel's previous two election victories over the progressive opposition.
Rahm has lost so much juice that both Democratic Party presidential candidates avoid him like the plague when they campaign in Chicago. Liberal icon Bill Moyers is now calling on Hillary Clinton to press for the resignations of both Rahm Emanuel and DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman-Schultz in order to "do their party and country a service."
Moyers and Michael Winship write:
And now he’s mayor of Chicago, reelected last April for a second term, but, as historian Rick Pearlstein wrote in The New Yorker a couple of months ago, “Chicagoans — and Democrats nationally — are suffering buyer’s remorse.”
To millions, they are enablers of the one percent, perpetuators of the Washington mentality that the rest of the country has grown to hate. What a message such servants of plutocracy send: Democrats — a bridge to the past.
|Alds. Munoz, Foulkes, and Sposato at Tour de Fork|
Last night, veteran Caucus leaders like Alds. Scott Waguespack, Leslie Hairston, Rod Sawyer and Rick Munoz shared tacos and chicken wings with newly-elected Democratic-backed State's Atty. Kim Foxx, State Senator Omar Aquino, Rep. Jaime Andrade, City Treasurer Kurt Summers, City Clerk Susana Mendoza, Committeeman Aaron Goldstein, reps from the CTU, SEIU, AFSCME, and more.
Tactical alliances and overlap of interests between the progressives and the council's Black and Hispanic Caucuses could well decide the next mayor's race. Note that yesterday's Black Caucus press conference demanding greater input into the selection of the next police superintendent drew progressive support. Ald. Sawyer plays a leadership role in both caucuses.
|New State's Atty. Kim Foxx speaks to Caucus supporters|
The new political alignment in the city and the shifting boundaries around the word "progressive" may cost some Caucus desertions and precipitate new internal struggles within the ranks of union leadership. But it is more likely to liberate some pols held captive on the machine's plantation in the same way the Harold Washington movement liberated them back in the day.
It's the season of the progressives. And that's a good thing. Right?
See Ben Joravsky's latest Reader piece for another view of the realignment.