Nationalizing 'The Chicago Way'

Nationalizing 'The Chicago Way'

Postby DDEATH » Sat Mar 10, 2012 9:49 am

Nationalizing 'The Chicago Way'

Dennis Byrne

March 6, 2012

The impression in some quarters — usually outside of Chicago — is that President Barack Obama has infected the White House with The Chicago Way of governing.

Not quite. He was elected The Chicago Way. But he is governing the Chicago Lakefront Liberal Way.

By doing so, he has answered the question that many Chicagoans never wanted to contemplate: What would it be like if a lakefront liberal ran Chicago, or, heaven forbid, the country? The results are in, and the answer is: terrifying.

Lakefront liberals never have run much of anything in Chicago, their piety and trendiness not quite right in a city of bungalows and two-flats. Lakefront liberals are Democrats of the salon, not of the saloon.

They're driven by impractical and utopian ideals. They were the few and the proud who in the 1960s and '70s fruitlessly charged the ramparts of Mayor Richard J. Daleyand, the Chicago Machine. Daley and the rest of 'em barely noticed the minor commotion outside the palace gates while they feasted within on the bounty of practical politics.

Younger Chicagoans may not be that familiar with how pejorative the term "lakefront liberal" (or lakeshore liberal or limousine liberal) once was. Today, lakefront liberals have successfully rebranded themselves as "progressives" — as if the only people who are for progress are the apostles of big government, big deficits and big panaceas.

Their species usually are found in lakefront wards, including Obama's Hyde Park, Evanston and certain other North Shore suburbs. They'll venture into the inland precincts only to sample one of those "authentic" ethnic restaurants that Chicago Magazine happens to stumble upon. Such visitations give them a satisfying sense of being among "the people."

Their view of the "people" was best typified by their most singular of all "accomplishments," at the 1972 Democratic National Convention. A self-appointed delegation led by former Ald. Bill Singer and the Rev. Jesse Jackson argued that the duly elected delegation led by Daley did not conform to the arcane liberal standards for diversity. When the credentials committee agreed and booted out the Daley delegation (including women and minorities), the self-appointed, unelected Singer/Jackson group took its place. This bit of enlightened governance concocted mostly by lakefront liberals burdened the party with the ultraliberal candidate George McGovern and the rest of us with Richard Nixon.

Today, lakefront liberals cling to urban visions in which suburbs (and the folks living in them) are the enemies. They dream of crisscrossing networks of bike paths; electric cars for those that can't be induced or forced to ride mass transit, and strict government control of land use, a la Portland, Ore. High-speed rail and permanently separating Lake Michigan and the Illinois Waterway to keep Asian carp out of the Great Lakes are their outrageously costly and unworkable causes de jour.

Obama's governance fits the mold perfectly: Obama and the like, knowing better than the rest of Americans, have imposed rules that everyone must buy health insurance (preferably through government combines) and panels of government "experts" that decide who is eligible for what medical reimbursements. Regulating carbon dioxide as if it were a pollutant (thereby making a human a polluter) and economy-stunting carbon caps are high on the list of must-dos. For every societal problem the solution is more money. And you get out of crushing debt by borrowing gobs more.

Bill Daley, Obama's former chief of staff, who knows something about growing up in a Chicago bungalow, reportedly warned Lakefront Obama of overreaching when Obama mandated that religious hospitals and clinics most conform to rules that violate their consciences. Obama ignored the warning, as a lakefront liberal would, thereby offending legions of Catholics in the neighborhoods who while they might disagree with their clergy on contraception, don't like their church so thoroughly disrespected.

When Republicans stop chewing each other up and settle on a presidential candidate, their best chance of beating Obama is to remind everyone that he is the prototypical Chicago lakefront liberal. The One who from on high is the all-seeing, all-knowing maestro of their lives. Time to retire him to the lakefront, where he can be properly ignored by the people in the neighborhoods who built this great city.

Dennis Byrne, a Chicago writer, blogs in The Barbershop at
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