Sunday, January 11, 2015

Aldermanic Politics: So Joe and Harry, Can You be Progressive and Neo-Liberal?

I am thinking about Joe Moore and Harry Osterman here. I always think about Harry but I was sparked to think about Joe because of the recent Reader article (Alderman Joe Moore explains his choice of beer and support for Rahm). He is a self-proclaimed Rahm supporter. He is a so-called progressive. Rahm in the meantime is what's called neo-liberal.

Progressive is understood these days as being the left-wing of the Democratic big tent. Neo-liberal is not really much of popular label at all. It's more of an insider label. Indeed there may be many so-called progressives who might be hard pressed to pin down a definition, even for themselves.

I use the term to refer to those Democrats who favor moving as much of the public infrastructure as possible into the private sector. Especially into the corporate private sector. Think charter schools. Think privatized water. Think privatized jails. You get the picture? Just remember that there is no need to stop pretty much anywhere. Think of hiring private mercenary corporations instead of the U.S. Army.

In Chicago, the first two, water and schools are the current and likely next battle grounds between the so-called progressives and the neo-liberals. Why do I keep saying so-called progressives? Well now we are back to Joe Moore. In the interview with Joe in the Reader, Mike Dumke seemed not to ask about either question, charter schools or water. So I am left wondering.

Where does Joe stand on charter schools and privatized water? Does he stand with Rahm on those? Even if not publicly?

Where does Harry stand for that matter? Harry recently took a stand against a charter school and another for Senn Public High School. But with Harry you never know whether such stands are tactical or philosophical. He holds all of his cards close to the vest. He is nothing if not a very practical politician.

So for Harry we might better ask where does the 48th ward community stand? There are two ways to find out. Conduct a poll or for Harry to make a move against the community and face some wrath. The ultimate wrath being successful opposition at the ballot box.

That's Joe's situation as we speak. The guy he barely beat in 2007, Don Gordon is back. But I don't see Don calling Joe out on either issue as that would be running at Joe from the left. And Joe substantially shored up his left flank with Participatory Budgeting. So Don is likely to run at Joe from the right, safety. Specifically so-called gang violence and crime in general. I myself don't see it working. I'm not sure that Rogers Park is really ready for gentrification. Gentrifiers care about crime. Crime keeps property values down and therefore taxes down. So I bet a lot of Rogers Parkers aren't ready for Lincoln Park style gentrification. Hell they aren't ready for Edgewater style gentrification. They still think their kids will be able to afford to live there when they grow up.

But Joe really is vulnerable to an opposition from the left. Problem is it would take a Paul Wellstone caliber campaigner to pull it off.

And so, by the way, is Harry vulnerable from the left. Harry has worked hard and successfully to shore up his right wing by being lauding his crime fighting cred. But lets face it, gay gentrification is different than straight gentrification. It can be fickle. Gay gentrifiers might actually care about participatory government more than Harry does.

But then again they may not. Conservative myths pushed by main stream media (MSM) run stronger these days and democratic ideals weaker. Take the myth that the private sector is more efficient than the public one. That's a myth belied by facts like that the social security bureaucracy is way more efficient than any private insurance bureaucracy. The problem for private bureaucracy is that the money saved ends up going into the owners pockets and is called profits. They way neo-liberalism supposedly saves money is by busting unions. But that just takes money out of a local economy and sends it to global profit centers. But if you want to run your government on the cheap, well sure, go for it. But it becomes less and less your government when you do.

Ultimately the neo-liberal privateers just want to reduce taxes, just like conservatives, on the rich and the corporate. And that's giant myth number two. Reducing taxes is good for everybody. The biggest problem is that somehow the taxes on the rich always get reduced more, even proportionately. Recycling tax dollars into the local economy directly tends to export more dollars out of our local economy and faster than recycling tax dollars via public wages first.

So can an alderman be progressive and neo-liberal. Well not in my book. But then I'm not a bookie.

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