Socialist Wave Hits Chicago Municipal Elections

Written by Timothy J. Dailey

America’s third largest city could soon have a major socialist legislative block at a time when most American cities have not elected any socialist politicians for generations. Residents of the Windy City woke up Wednesday morning to a dramatic shift in the political landscape after Tuesday’s municipal elections, with at least three council seats won by socialist candidates. The Chicago Democratic Socialists of America (CDSA) and United Working Families (UWF)–once considered “fringe” political parties–have joined in an alliance with the city’s progressive unions to create a budding powerhouse that promises to make radical changes in the city.

The new socialist aldermen plan to join with other socialist and leftist aldermen to form the Progressive Caucus, one of the largest groups in Chicago’s fifty-member city council. Together they comprise the most socialists elected to office in Chicago in more than a century. Many view the socialist wave as a reaction against perceived political injustice, including highly publicized incidents of police brutality. Other popular issues addressed by the socialists include rent control, the call for a duly elected and representative school board which is currently composed of hand-picked members chosen by the mayor, and a massive subsidy for the upscale Lincoln Yards development.

Much of the blame for the losses suffered by the old guard was pinned on former Mayor Rahm Emanuel who during his eight-year tenure controlled the city government with an iron grip. Viewed as the willing tool of Big Business, Emanuel raised taxes on middle-class families, cut funding for public education, and presided over a huge budget increase for the scandal-ridden police department. Democratic socialist alderman Carlos Ramirez-Rosa explains:

After eight years of Rahm Emanuel and his neoliberal policies, Chicagoans are sick and tired of a rigged system that privileges a rich and powerful few at the expense of working people.

According to Lucie Macias, spokesperson for the CDSA:

As democratic socialists, we’re ready to build a Chicago for all of us, not just a wealthy few.  Our ‘Chicago for All’ platform is based on three main planks: housing for all, sanctuary for all and education for all. We’re excited to build a socialist caucus in city hall to carry out this agenda and fight for Chicago’s working class.

Astoundingly, one searches in vain for media criticism–or even caution–regarding the Second City’s embrace of socialism. Indeed, the press is marching in lock-step in its praise of Chicago’s “socialist revolution” which it would clearly like to see expanded across the United States. But is this favorable view of socialism justified?

One need only look to the devastation occurring before our eyes in the collapse of our South American neighbor Venezuela to see the answer to that.

With each passing generation, socialism is embraced somewhere on the planet, only to fail again and again.  As Mark J. Perry notes:

But today, the seductive temptress of socialism has found a new generation of clueless dupes who have no memory, knowledge or appreciation of the events of the late 1980s and early 1990s that moved the world in the direction of capitalism and are falling hard for the fanciful pipe-dream of socialism.

Let us hope and pray that the eyes of Americans will be opened before this failed experiment causes irreparable harm to our great country, which was built upon sound capitalist economic principles that afforded maximum freedom with minimal governmental interference.

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