RIP lakefront liberal | Bleader

Friday, April 10, 2015

RIP lakefront liberal

Posted By on 04.10.15 at 04:00 PM

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Rahm Emanuel got lots of love from lakefront voters.
  • Joshua Lott/Getty Images
  • Rahm Emanuel got lots of love from lakefront voters.
Among the casualties in Tuesday's runoff election—along with my short but brilliant career as a political prognosticator—was the concept of the lakefront liberal.

That sucker died a ignoble death with the avalanche of support Mayor Emanuel got from voters of the north-lakefront persuasion.

For relatively new readers, it's time for a history lesson . . .

The concept of the lakefront liberal goes back to the 60s and 70s, when thousands of baby boomers settled in Lincoln Park, Lakeview, and other north-lakefront communities.

Bolstered by youthful idealism, many of these young boomers rose up against the machine politics of Mayor Richard J. Daley.

That's the father, not the son.

I've always suspected this outbreak of liberalism was spread by a healthy aversion to the prospect of being drafted and sent to Vietnam.

So if we really want to revive the progressive movement, let's bring back the draft.

For a few years, the lakefront liberals elected such anti-machine independent aldermen as Billy Singer, Marty Oberman, and Dick Simpson.

Who were sort of like the Scott Waguespacks and John Arenas of their day.

But over the years, as they've grown grumpy and gray, the north lakefronters have gone Republican.

Take the 43rd Ward . . .

Nestled around the Lincoln Park Zoo, it gave roughly 33 percent of its vote to Mitt Romney, compared to the 14 percent he got citywide.

Apparently, even President Obama's just a little too militant for Lincoln Parkers.

Last year, Governor Bruce Rauner won over 49 percent of their vote, compared to the 20 percent he got citywide.

And in Tuesday's election, Mayor Rahm—who spent his first two years in office acting like a Republican—won over 83 percent of the vote in the 43rd.

Eighty-three percent! That sounds like what President Putin gets out of Saint Petersburg.

I understand why Lincoln Parkers would vote for Rahm. He loves them so much he even gave them a new school that lots of them didn't want.

But must they be so servile?

Consider the aldermanic race. In that election, Alderman Michele Smith was on the ropes against challenger Caroline Vickrey in large part because she had upset so many people with her heavy-handed zoning practices.

To beat Vickrey, Smith proclaimed her unrelenting subservience to Mayor Rahm, while accusing Vickery of not being subservient enough to Rahm.

Or as Smith put it in a recent debate: "She [Vickery] has said she's looking forward to working with Chuy Garcia."

Vickrey insisted that she also supported the mayor. But the damage was done. At the moment, Smith's clinging to a small lead as absentee votes are counted.

In the old days, Lincoln Parkers voted for aldermen who had the guts to stand up to the mayor. Nowadays they're looking for suck-ups.

In fairness to Alderman Smith, she was one of five aldermen who voted against Mayor Rahm's proposal to raise the minimum wage.

Think about that, folks. When it comes to keeping the lowest paid workers from making a few extra pennies an hour, Smith's a regular Patrick Henry.

With these recent voting trends, it's time to find a new nickname for the Lincoln Park voter.

Lakefront lames sounds about right to me.

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