At the end of summer every year, you notice the beginning of how things end in the world. Gardens and grass are more brown, more dry and less vibrantly alive. The summer big movies have been released and the studios empty out the less worthy offerings around the beginning of September. There is murderous heat and the realization of our kids that school is about to start.
This year, there is also another bitter election cycle to distract us from the sad fact that we have so much less power than citizens of our parents’ generation had. Our “leaders” don’t get it anymore. They don’t understand that they work for us–that they are public servants. Somehow, and not all that long ago, they decided, via our inaction and apathy, that they were in charge; that they were Tarzan and we were Jane. It’s our fault, really. The political culture’s obscene sense of entitlement is an arrogance we allowed to happen. Twenty years ago, Rahm Emanuel would not have been able to get elected without the support of labor. Now he feels entitled to break unions, fuck with pensions and decide for you and me what kind of schools our kids will have.
The head of the teachers union, Karen Lewis, is not helping matters any. She is hell-bent on brinksmanship. She is naive and way out of her depth. What she doesn’t know is that these guys have NO bottom. There is no depth to which they will not sink to get their way. They are creatures of the political back-channels and alleyways, and these are the political operatives who are down there where the lizards have no eyes. Rahm has forgotten more about the foul arts of political vindictiveness and nastiness than Karen Lewis will ever know.
I’ve come to believe he is the worst person we’ve ever elected to any position of power in city government. First it will be the teachers, then the CTA workers or the firemen. . .then every other union that employs public workers–letter carriers, etc. Rahm and his crew will run the table. They will have privatized the city like his East Coast pal, Michael Bloomberg, a similarly height-challenged, big-city mayor with a Napoleon complex. All the while, while people are screaming about their pensions, the Emanuels of the world will be telling them, “It’s those GREEDY teachers” or fireman, or train conductors or letter carriers, or cops or. . .well, you get the idea. Fill in the blanks.
Aldermen and politicians are exempt from this because 20 years ago King Richie helped pass a bill which inoculated them from this fate. I guess he figured, ‘Why should we take the fucking when we can pass it along to the citizens?”
There will be two kinds of people inhabiting Chicago–wealthy , connected types. . .and those who deign to serve them.
I had an odd epiphany last night, watching the parade of Republican drool cases at their convention. At one point, they trotted out Clint Eastwood to endorse the Sphincter Twins and, albeit half-heartedly, he did. It made me sad to see Eastwood used so cynically, and in the service of such hateful mediocrity. Toward the end of his rather surreal and disconnected endorsement, he looked straight into the camera and reminded us, “We the People, own this country. Not the politicians. That, at best, they are our employees.”
It kind of makes me wonder if this were not his intention all along. To wrap his real message in a half-hearted endorsement of a haircut masquerading as a public servant.
This is another thought about the end of summer: one’s tendency to indulge in wishful thinking. “Washing the dirty roses,” was what my grandmother called it.