Thursday, November 21, 2013

Jim Vail: Should Karen Lewis Run for Mayor?

Jim Vail poses an interesting question at Second City Teacher along with an interesting analysis. I missed Karen at Brooklyn College the other day. Might have been a fun question to ask.

Chicago Mayor Karen Lewis?

Should Karen Lewis Run for Mayor?
By Jim Vail

When it comes to politics, it's pretty dismal.

The reason we the workers are losing, and they the 1% are winning is because they control the political world.

Who do you think chose Obama to be president - the people, or billionaires like the Pritzkers who now have coveted government posts and see laws passed in their favor. 
The banks got bigger, and health insurance profits increased after the election of the first African American president.
And certainly they put plenty of money into his campaign.

It is such a rigged game.

I am still amazed that people believe in this system they call democracy.

When Mayor Richard Daley announced already almost four years ago that he would no longer continue his reign over Chicago, it was like a king and a dynasty ending.

But that was in name only.

The new rep for the rich is this guy from Winnetka named Rahm Emanuel, who has a knack for squeezing the rich for their money and climbing up the political ladder by threatening unions, pensioners and anyone else in the 99%.

He's now the mayor and it's all very depressing.  

After attacking the teachers union, which brought on the first major strike in 25 years, this guy is supposedly so hated that everyone keeps saying he can't possibly win re-election.

The reality is anything but.

It ain't the people who have a choice here, despite what some may foolishly think, it's the ruling class.  And the ruling class feel this big lover of privatization and big banks and hedge funds is getting the job down.

So you actually have talk of Emanuel eventually running for president.  

Depressing, right?

So who could possibly run against this guy if you don't have a massive war chest?  

Well, you obviously can't compete against him when he's got most of the corporate and Hollywood cash in his bag.

How about defeating him with an army of workers?

Well, there again it's very depressing.  Many of the city's unions are vying for the lead role of the cowardly lion, and coughing up hard-earned worker cash for the mayor.  Teamsters, Engineers, Unite-Here!

There are some who are holding out the faint hope that the one visible candidate who could raise a ruckus, and has, against the mayor and gain a media presence, would be Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis.

But Lewis has told her troops she cannot run for mayor.  Why?  D-I-V-O-R-C-E.

Whatever, as my good friend Masha always says. 

She will run, trust me, if its possible, if she can be convinced.

There are many who would like to see Karen run.  They even started a Facebook page devoted to Karen for Mayor.  

But should Karen run?

Well, the idea sounds sexy.  It would certainly appear to be a good fight between two prize fighters.  Why not continue that battle between the CTU president and the mayor in the next election.

And certainly, Lewis would raise the issues of the 99% - jobs, pensions, heath care, etc.

And should she run a strong campaign, would it not give hope to the rest of the country that our political process is actually open to a good fight for the people?

But would it make a difference?  Could Karen possibly compete against corporate America? Would she actually implement changes against the wishes of big business who put Emanuel where he is today?

This is what one teacher delegate told Karen at the recent house of delegates:

"Instead of supporting Democrats, we should run our own. The rest of working Chicago faces the same attacks we face, both from the mayor and from the corporations. Our campaigns could attract lots of support – the kind of broader support we are going to need if we are going to try to push back budget cuts, bad laws and school closings. We may not win these races, but that’s besides the point. We will be able to organize our power on our issues, and show how those relate to the concerns of parents, city workers and others.

"Which brings me to this, and I know I’m not alone on this one.  I think Karen should run. Karen could lead the biggest and most visible fight against this mayor, and the biggest fight and most successful fight in the city in recent memory. She has the respect of those who see the need to fight.  You running would give people a chance to say “it’s wrong, what you’re doing” when they go to the polls.  I know you don’t want to run, but the circumstances call for it, our situation calls for it.  This would be a great opportunity to reach out – a campaign would give people in the community a chance to work with us, and for us to know their concerns.  And you liked showing up Jesse Ruiz?  Guess who you’d get to debate, this time. . . " 

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