Thursday, January 29, 2015

Ward 33 election: who does Deb Mell see as "us" & "them"?

Letter found in snow. Shared by email January 28, 2015.
Elections are about framing the elections between "us" and "them". This is the line Alderman Deb Mell uses:
I will take on the difficult decisions facing Chicago and fight for what is rightfully ours.
According to Grassroots Illinois Action Mell voted with Mayor Rahm Emanuel 100% of the time 2011-14. So, a more truthful way of Mell saying it would be,
"I will take on the decisions Mayor Emanuel wants decided and vote the way MRE tells me to vote."
But I would rather focus on the second half of Mell's statement.
  1. Who is included in "ours"?
  2. What is "rightfully ours"?
  3. Who or what is the threat to us getting what's "rightfully ours"?
The Chicago Left/reform/independents sees politics as a fight between banks, developers, insiders & federal/state policy often hostile to cities, minorities & urban issues.

Political organizations, like the Mell political machine, stayed in power by being the insiders that distributed the jobs, government benefits & contracts in a way that reenforced the social order preferred by the local community. Plus, the political organizations were better organized & worked harder than the goo-goo independents & reformers.

The other ugly card the White political organizations used was to subtly & not so subtly posing elections as competition between Whites & Blacks.

The argument the White political machines made was,
"If we don't keep the Blacks out, the neighborhoods will 'change'. Property values will drop. And you won't recognize your own neighborhood."
Without further context, Deb Mell's statement seems like she's trying to use coded language that will connect more "Conservative" Whites & Latinos. In politics this is called a "dog whistle".

But maybe I've got it wrong. Deb Mell can clear it up by explaining who is included in "our", explaining what is "rightfully ours" and explaining what she's as the threat to what's "rightfully ours".

Deb Mell is campaigning for re-election. Two challengers will appear on the ballot: Tim Meegan & Annisa Wanat.

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