A good night for socialists as Chicago elects first black female mayor

It was a good night for socialists in Chicago as city voters, sickened by corruption, turned out much of the old guard to elect a bunch of new faces - most of them from the far left.

Every decade or so, city voters become so disgusted with the machine that they elect a slew of "reformers." In due time the "reformers" are absorbed by the machine as well meaning and naive politicians figure out how things really work in Chicago.

But for now, there is euphoria on the left.

Chicago Tribune:

Two progressive newcomers who won and regard themselves as Democratic socialists are Andre Vasquez, who beat longtime incumbent machine mainstay Patrick O’Connor (40th), and Byron Sigcho-Lopez, who takes the 25th Ward seat vacated by the outgoing Danny Solis.

Progressives have campaigned on an agenda that includes chipping away at the gap between the city’s haves and have-nots. That means striking a better balance between resources devoted to downtown and the North Side vs. South Side and West Side neighborhoods.

But progressives also will have to pragmatically tackle urgent city-wide problems. There’s the pension crisis that presents to the next City Council a $270 million budget shortfall in 2020. That figure will grow to $1 billion by 2023.

They’ll also have an opportunity to institute lasting reforms that address City Hall’s culture of corruption. Limits on aldermanic privilege could be on the table. So could expanding the role of one of the best checks on city council ethics abuse — the city’s inspector general. If they need inspiration, they can take it from the ongoing federal criminal case against Ald. Ed Burke, 14th, who could be indicted as soon as early May.

It was not a good night for the machine, starting at the top. Cook County Board Commissioner Toni Preckwinkle tried to run as an outsider while holding down a job that was the very definition of machine politics. She had the misfortune of being connected to the Alderman Ed Burke bribery scandal, which made her claims of being independent ring hollow.

Her opponent, Lori Lightfoot, didn't have much experience, but neither was she tainted by corruption. She breezed to victory with 71% of the vote.

Lightfoot, an African American lesbian, promised big tax hikes for the rich, claims to have a plan to deal with violence, wants housing reforms, and promises to reform education. In truth, even with progressive allies on the city council, there won't be any money to do anything. That's because there's a pension bomb about to go off in the city to the tune of $130 million. If left unattended, it will be $1 billion by 2023. 

So all the talk about "reform" is a sideshow. The crisis in Chicago has to do with the deep rot infecting the city's major institutions, not just city hall. At a time when gang violence is making the city unlivable, "activists" have castrated the police. And their plan to address the killings is silly - more gun control.  

The answer to extreme poverty is to raise taxes on "the rich." Education "reform" involves bullying downstate school systems to pay tribute to the Chicago public schools. Ideas to fix the crumbling infrastructure center on making sure the unions and favored contractors get the work. If you're connected, you prosper.

At best, Lightfoot might be able to slow the decline. But Chicago's future is already written unless politicians are able to bite the bullet and give the city the bitter medicine it so desperately needs to get out from under the crushing burdens placed on it by greedy politicians and crooked businessmen who continue to enrich themselves at the expense of the public good.


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