Friday, October 21, 2005

Big Daddy’s Order to Black Incumbents: Run for Reelection!

There’s more than meets the eye to the directive sent to all African American incumbents not long ago by one of the most powerful Democratic bosses in the nation: run for reelection. Mike Madigan, Speaker of the House and Democratic state chairman (not to mention father of the attorney general) issued that curt order, many observers believe, to batten down the hatches against any attempt by independent African American candidates who may wish to secure a toe-hold against what is increasingly seen as the Daley-Madigan machine. The bosses are terrified that they will lose control of the black vote, having seen the wave of the future: the rise of Sen. Barack Obama who was not sponsored by the machine (which backed Dan Hynes) and who now is a full-fledged national figure who is mentioned for the vice presidency and who has no ties or debts to the machine.

The Madigan order may well be in response to an editorial in the Chicago Tribune Oct. 10 which urged independent challenges to a number of Cook county board members who are puppets of President John Stroger (who in turn is obedient to the will of the Daleys and Madigan). African American candidates who are not beholden to the Daleys and Madigan is the worst thing that can happen to an organization which held one-party sway in Chicago since 1931 and which has not gone overboard in granting blacks the leadership roles that is their due basis the huge voting strength they have in the Cook county Democratic party.

Stroger’s decision to run for reelection is a case in point. As the Tribune points out he has presided over unparalleled corruption and misfeasance which requires tax increases rather than budget reductions. The 76-year-old Stroger has long been an ally of the Daleys. He is tired and would be expected to step down if the white-dominated machine were not so anxious to keep him on so it can make a case study of him. Once reelected, the machine can argue that it supported an African American in 2006 in return for which it would be natural for it to expect black support for the reelection of Richard M. Daley. Question: Isn’t it a fact that the Madigan order for all black incumbents to run for reelection is an attempt to shore up machine strength for the future when black independent Democrats could tip the balance against Mayor Daley’s reelection? Since hiring is a staple of the machine’s strength, a solid wall of incumbency would be necessary to block independent growth. The Tribune said, “The question here is whether U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. is angered about government-by-cronies at the County Building—or only at Chicago’s City Hall. Jackson will serve his constituents if he recruits her [county commissioner Deborah Sims’] replacement.” There is no doubt that young black independents have moved to run for office inspired by the Obama Jackson freedom from the machine. One thing is sure: the rise of a Barack Obama who is not beholden to the machine and the continued independence of Jackson is enough to give the old, weather-beaten organization heartburn. Which is why Madigan’s order went out from headquarters to all black incumbents, no matter what offices they hold, from top to bottom, to run again.

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