Chicago – A Once Great City That Generations of Democratic Leadership Have Run Into The Ground

Moody’s has downgraded the rating of the debt of the City of Chicago to “junk”.

This triggers all sorts of crazy swap termination fees, accelerated payments, and the like. The damage of the downgrade is in the billions of dollars.

The City of Chicago has been in a death spiral for a while now, and I think it is probably time to just go all “Detroit” and get it over with. The bondholders will get a haircut, as well as the pension funds and everybody else.

But that aside, here is yet another case where if the Republicans were smart, they could simply run on a “we’re not them” platform. Every single thing that has happened in Chicago has come under the Democrats’ watch. There is no way out for them. They created it, they participated in it, and they kicked the can down the road for the current generation to watch it all implode.

I have written about this before, but either the Republicans are too nice, or don’t care. It is so easy to put this at the Donks’ doorstep. I just don’t understand why the Republicans don’t do it.

This implosion of a once great city is disgusting and should be front page news. But it isn’t.

37 thoughts on “Chicago – A Once Great City That Generations of Democratic Leadership Have Run Into The Ground”

  1. In an example of perfect timing, it has been announced that the Obama Presidential Library will be located in Chicago and on the South Side.

    CNN reported last month that Obama notified Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Illinois lawmakers of his decision to pick Chicago’s South Side as the anchor to his presidential legacy.

    I expect to hear that Bill Ayres will be Director and Bernadine Dorn Curator with Jeremiah Wright as Chaplain.

    There are concerns about using park land but I suggest that large swaths of vacant or nearly vacant land should be available. The commercial streets of my boyhood are made up of boarded up small businesses, for example.

    Timing is important so it may be possible to announce the date of the library opening and the date of bankruptcy filing at the same time.

  2. Illinois Republicans were more than happy to ride along so long as their cozy deals were kept. Why else would good tea-party candidates be fought so much? In NY State the Dem and GOP leaders are now all under arrest by the Feds and the Governor is soon to go as well. The Democrats always start this since they run the big cities and the graft potential is much greater. But it got much much worse when the Democrats became only the party of the elite intellectuals and the public employees.

    Governor Snyder in Michigan did about as well as could be expected in managing the Detroit bankruptcy. But Chicago is not as destroyed as Detroit so lots more interests at play

  3. There has been no difference between Republicans and Democrats in Illinois for at least a generation now, other than the occasional Kabuki Theater at election time. The two parties are commonly referred to as “The Combine” (h/t to John Kass). The sad thing is that this is now the model at the national level too.

  4. I don’t think that the blame will stick to Dems for very long if at all. They own Baltimore, for instance, in every sense of the word. Yet they & their MSM allies are transferring blame for the city’s woes from themselves to “the system” or “racism” or any other nebulosity which cannot be voted out of office.

  5. Every single thing that has happened in Chicago has come under the Democrats’ watch. There is no way out for them.

    Sure there is.

    I steal a cookie from the cookie jar. I take a bite. It’s in my hand, one bite missing. There are crumbs around my mouth….

    YOU: “Hey. You just took that cookie!”

    ME: “No, I didn’t”

    YOU: “Yes you did. It’s in your hand!”

    ME: “No, it’s not.”

    YOU: “Yes you did! It’s right there! There’s a bite missing! There are crumbs around your mouth!”

    ME: “No, you’re wrong. It wasn’t me. I’m sure it was that guy over there…. you know who I’m talking about.”

    YOU: “How can it be him? He just arrived two minutes ago?”

    ME: “No, it was him. Totally I had nothing to do with it.”

    YOU: “But…. um….. it still in your hand. Right there.”

    ME: I don’t know what you’re talking about. I had nothing to do with it. That guy – See him? Right there. That guy….”




    CNN (Being much more centrist – ) ‘Controversy rages over complicity in missing cookie case: “Me” denies involvement, “You” continues accusations, some say both are at fault.



    No way out for them? Where ya been this past decade?

  6. “Illinois Republicans….” – I am very familiar with the combine and all of the terrible things that go on in Springfield. I am talking about the City of Chicago. You can’t blame the Republicans for anything that has festered in the city. Has there ever been one Republican council member in the City of Chicago in the last 50 years? Maybe one that I seem to remember.

  7. Illinois just elected a Republican. Just in time to be blamed for everything that happens now.

    I doubt that will inhibit people who say I can’t possibly be racist. I’m a woman of color.

    A students’ union diversity officer who found herself at the centre of a racism row after requesting white men do not turn up to an event has said she cannot be racist because she is an ethnic minority woman.

    Bahar Mustafa faced a backlash after she wrote a request on Facebook for white men not to attend a Goldsmiths University students’ union event for black and ethnic minority students in April.

    The Democrats are innocent of all charges because SHUT UP !

  8. Yes, republicans can run against “them” but they can’t run against math.

    What is in it for a republican to run for Chicago leadership? To spend a term trying to hold against mathematical certainty while being pilloried as a racist 1% ‘er who is going to “balance the budget on the backs of the poor”

    Mother Theresa herself would scoff at the required fortitude

  9. Ed Vrdolyak became a Republican briefly before he was thrown out of office. That was after the Council Wars racially split the Machine for awhile. There was Republican representing the 41st Ward on the NW side during the 90s and 2000s, but that’s the ward that all the cops and firefighters live in to satisfy their residency requirements. It’s as close to the suburbs as they can get, so it’s a bit of an anomaly.

  10. Neither US political party Democrat or Republican has a unified policy. Members of each party need not have the same beliefs, message, or policies. Each party is a coalition of politicians, and I mean that as an insult. Think of them as almost always being mercenaries gathered under two flags, fighting for the income of the taxpayer. One central theme is not enough to capture the support of most Americans, but two themes do the job adequately.

    Each party uses power to enrich itself while delivering policies which appeal to a majority of the populace. Neither party cares much that these policies are the best for the peasants, sustainable, consistent, or logical. Both parties support the increasing power of the state, the power which they want for themselves, to do well “by doing good” for the peasants.

    The people running for office as Republicans cannot be identified by their common understanding of public policy. They are only Republicans because they last held office or registered to vote in the Republican coalition, and they have at some time or another spoken in favor of some theme which is more common to Republicans than Democrats.

    Republicans have been out of power in Illinios for decades. Where is their party newspaper and white papers detailing the correct public policy? Have they disciplined their members who do not follow the party line? No newspaper and no discipline. Go along to get along.

  11. “The two parties are commonly referred to as “The Combine” (h/t to John Kass)”

    I like John Kass, his love of the Godfather, his Greek heritage, his “chumbalone” schtick, etc.

    However, to assign moral equivalency between the Illinois GOP and the Chicago Democratic Machine is just plain wrong. Sure there have been some corrupt individuals such as George Ryan, Bob Cellini, Pate Philip, etc., but the main difference is these guys were just basically common thieves, small time Charlies.

    George Ryan took bribes to give unqualified Polish truckers drivers licenses. It eventually caused a horrible accident which killed a family. That was a criminal tragedy, but it wasn’t a conspiracy. It was a racket.

    The big difference is the Chicago Machine crossed the Rubicon when they put Barack Obama in office for two terms
    (mind boggling). That accomplishment far surpassed any kickback any Republican may have pocketed. It’s the difference between the major leagues and the Sunday morning beer leagues. The damage the Chicago Machine has done to the country and to the world is incalculable.

  12. I worry about this. It may strike a lot of you as silly, but I worry what would become of places like the Shedd and the Art Institute if the city really took a serious hit. Would the mobs come for those places? My heart trembles.

  13. Honestly, as far as the Shedd goes, I can take it or leave it, but I was actually just at the Museum of Science & Industry today. It’s anchored that neighborhood for ages, and it’s not going anywhere. The best thing that could happen to it is for the city to abandon it. Then maybe they might finally get some 3D printers.

  14. The purposes of American democracy were two, and each has failed.

    First to allow the people by elections to be a constraint on their rulers. Instead people vote for candidates who appeal to their worst natures. Complain about politicians who ignore the best interest of the city, county, state, or nation all you like. They win because the voters ignore the the best interest of the city, county, state, or nation, preferring Jim Crow, Affirmative Action, and Title IX.

    Second, the division and separation of powers was intended to force the candidates (and later, parties) to compete, thereby limiting their corruption. Even if the enlightened electorate existed, the parties have conspired to present only corrupt candidates whose purposes is looting while demagoguing. Lesser parties only appear to oppose the ruling party; instead restricting their opposition—such as it is—to verbal disagreements while politicians become wealthy pretending to be an opposition party.

    Only restricting the franchise to property owners, as the Founding Fathers intended, will ameliorate the situation. And that will not happen without bloodshed.

  15. “I just don’t understand why the Republicans don’t do it.”

    Chicago Republicans are too smart to get their hands dirty with running a local government hustle. There is far more wealth to be made quietly in the private sector than spending time in prison.

    Ubi Est Mea – Official slogan of the Illinois Republican party.

  16. The big difference is the Chicago Machine crossed the Rubicon

    If that’s true, we should look forward to several regional factions competing to loot the state, civil wars, proscriptions, exile, and dictatorship. Then, of course, glorious centuries of fame and infamy as a multi-continental empire.

  17. Generally what interests me is figuring out how to engage in a turnaround when the long term infrastructure and political deficits have accumulated over so many years. I think that Chicago can still be saved but it will take a considerable effort that doesn’t start at City Hall but in the minds and hearts of the electorate.

    Andrew_M_Garland – In a country where no ideological faction can command a majority, you can either assemble your governing coalition before or after the election. Assembling it after is a recipe for political deals between the elite at the expense of the people in my opinion.

    Why the tea party types don’t march through the party committees and clean up the GOP in Illinois, I don’t know but that’s been going on in most states. Perhaps it’s just not ripe yet over there.

    Grurray – 3D printers are apparently already there, you just missed them:

  18. I am basing this on my experience of Philly politics, and my assumption would be that the Republican party (meaning the various politicians and party workers) is composed of people who are more or less resigned to their status as a minority party and are content to work with whatever scraps they get thrown for not making a fuss. Looking for the party to make a fuss in this situation is pointless – they are lapdogs by nature and selection.

    So any actual challenge would have to come from outside the party, and this is where the Machine has more than enough power to stomp out such challenges before they get anywhere. A prominent individual (a la Bloomberg), may have the resources to fight back against the fury that city hall can unleash, but nothing resembling a party alternative can survive the harassment that would decend on the leaders and even more the donors who might try and fund it. All they have to do is scare off the bulk of the possible support – whatever leaks through can be dismissed as cranks.

    The machine falls only when there is a significant power group outside the machine that revolts against it. One of the reasons that Detroit has fallen as far as it has is that the commerical and business interests that might have formed such a group fled the city outright. Others here would know better than I if such a group exists in Chicago.

  19. Dan – You do know that most journalists support Democrats and left wing policies, generally, don’t you?

    So you should take the next step and conclude that Republican criticism of Democratic mismanagement of Chicago is unlikely to get much coverage from those journalists.

    Suppose, for example, that John Boehner made a speech on the subject. Do you think that George Stephanopoulos would make it the lead story on an ABC news program? Do you think he’d give it any coverage at all?

    I’ll go a step further. I would give 10-1 odds that, if you were to contact Republican legislators in Illinois, you would find that some of them have been making those criticisms for years — and that they have gotten very little coverage for their efforts.

  20. Jim – I read a lot of blogs, and consume a pretty decent amount of online media in general. I would imagine that if these stinging rebukes from the Republicans about the subject of the City of Chicago actually existed that someone, somewhere that I have been trolling would have linked it. As of this point, I am not seeing it. Correct me if I am wrong.

  21. I think Jim has a point. See Pat Quinn’s “anti-violence” vote buying slush fund which state Republicans have been unsuccessfully trying to ban for the past year. No GOP legislation in the General Assembly has any chance to see the light of day – whether that be the Governor’s desk or the media – because of the Democratic super majority.

    Incidentally, this is one way the Democrats deflect the fallout of the civic implosion. They claim that easy access to guns is the cause of the city’s high crime levels, which in turn causes the overall economic decline. Then when truck loads of cash roll into town to supposedly fight the problem, it all gets siphoned off to cronies, operatives, and middlemen.

    “If that’s true, we should look forward to several regional factions competing to loot the state, civil wars, proscriptions, exile, and dictatorship.”

    I’m not so sure. It might be that it’s dependent on culture.

  22. “Why the tea party types don’t march through the party committees and clean up the GOP in Illinois, I don’t know but that’s been going on in most states.”

    I don’t know where, and if, this is true. I am in California where corruption starts at the local level and builds up from there. I live in Orange County, a generally Republican outpost in a sea of blue communities. About ten years ago, a local group threw out a mildly corrupt city council in our small city.

    The group has a local web site that has not been updated in a year. and a history of how this got started.

    It is very local and the issues are ones that are probably common to small cities. I got involved first by signing a couple of petitions and then getting appointed to a city commission, the planning commission. How this happened is an illustration of local politics. The local city council was a closed shop of local politicians who spent time satisfying the desires of real estate developers and inflating their own egos by naming city facilities after themselves. A local group, much like the Tea Party managed to defeat two of these politicians and replace them with newcomers who had no political ambitions. After this small earthquake, the remaining three city council members practiced a form of retaliation by voting down all appointments to city commissions by the hated minority two members. I was finally asked if I would serve and was confirmed only because I had operated on one of the three majority members.

    In an election two years later, the three person majority was voted out, or at least two of them were, and replaced by new members who promised to follow the wishes of the citizen activists. These included voiding some contracts with city vendors that looked to be sweetheart type agreements and to dispose of some excessive city amenities and employees. The city of 100,000 had 142 employees which seemed excessive.

    Soon after the new council took office, both of the new members began to violate their promises. One made a new friend of the LA Times reporter who had been a pest and the other began to make decisions based on personal friendships instead of good policy.

    The reform committee lost much of its enthusiasm soon after. Sadder but wiser, many lost faith in reform.

  23. I am wondering – with the current electorate – how much good would be done until all the house of cards come down. You wouldn’t get much sympathy from the unions who have been the main beneficiary wit the Dems.

  24. Michael Kennedy – The sort of burn out you’re talking about is the inevitable consequence of believing that “our” tribal grouping can’t go corrupt. All tribal groupings, including the Tea Party can go corrupt. It’s systemic reform that must be combined with wave after wave of virtuous reformers that are eager to find somebody else qualified to shoulder the load that creates a combination that works.

  25. It’s the American way. Everyone trough down and the devil take the hindmost.

    It was never going to be a successful model but the sheer hugeness of the gift that was America kept this madness going for a long time. A huge resource to loot was your gift and you have squandered it. Not surprising really. Almost anyone would have, humans are hard wired to attack windfalls.

  26. America became huge because its model is successful. If America’s success were merely a matter of natural resources then countries such as Canada and Russia would also be colossi. It isn’t and they aren’t. (Canada’s relative success is due to the fact that it possesses many of the same cultural and political qualities that make the USA successful.)

    The problems that afflict Chicago are universal and many countries have been unable to transcend them. The USA has been able to do so, to a large degree, and thrive because of its culture and the wisdom behind its political model. Odds are that we will continue to adapt and thrive despite local problems.

  27. >>If America’s success were merely a matter of natural resources then countries such as Canada and Russia would also be colossi.

    That requires a smidgen of thought to deduce. Waaaaay out of Pengun’s ken. He’s like a poster boy of leftist idiocy.

  28. Good post. I don’t know why the Republicans don’t let the democrats own it.

    I do think that Rauner is different than the traditionally “capitive” Republicans that Illinois usually produces. He has zero at stake in the combine and isn’t willing to protect it at all.

    Rauner can just starve the beast and watch it collapse. There simply is no other way. At some point no one will be dumb enough to loan money to any of these governmental entities, and we will have to come to grips with our pensions and obligations and decide what to do. Even if Rauner raises taxes, it cannot be enough to pay off these giant obligations.

    This is going to be a horrendous mess. You need to understand that in Chicago and Illinois politics is a blood sport. Many high ranking people commit suicide or are sent to prison. The last governor’s race set a standard for miserable campaigning that will be a high bar for others to attain.

    The unions are not growing in Illinois; they basically control governmental institutions. No manufacturer in their right mind will set up in Illinois and what union manufacturing we do have has been shrinking for decades. However, services, which are not under their thumb, are growing and Chicago has always been a hub for this type of work. In the end it will be a showdown between agriculture and services against the traditional government and we will determine who wins.

    in the end what is rarely discussed is that Chicago itself ought to be broken up, along with Cook County. There is no link between the city as a whole; it is a bunch of barely connected neighborhoods. Chicago really represents thriving areas and completely broken down areas with no connection between the two except for arbitrary boundaries drawn 150 years ago.

    And Illinois is 95% as rotten as Chicago. The suburbs and downstate cities are full of debt and local boards that can borrow money with little oversight and all of that has to come crashing down too. This is why they don’t push too hard on Chicago; the whole edifice top to bottom is very shaky and if one piece of the jenga tower goes others will likely come down too.

    I will soon find out what it is like to live in Greece, with protests and rage and the death of a fundamentally failed pact between socialism and borrowed money.

  29. Heh, 36 comments roll by and no on has bothered to point out the giant pink elephant in the room.

    Chicago demographics circa 2010

    Non-hispanic white – 31.7%
    Black – 32.9%
    Latino – 28.9%

    There is a lot of ruin in a city let alone a nation, but crazy Leftist politics is surprisingly resilient given a productive enough population. San Francisco is more than a match for Chicago in pure unalloyed leftism yet it is a far cry from Detroit. It is on the other hand only 6.1% black, a percentage that has been in steady decline for nearly 40 years.

Comments are closed.