A high-power panel around the Chicago Newsroom table this week to kick around Brett Kavanaugh; Jason Van Dyke; the upcoming elections, both mayoral and gubernatorial; and an expert look forward at the type of government Chicago may have in the coming years. It could be quite different, they say. But we’ve got to convince more Chicagoans, and more Americans, out to the polls, they tell us.
Delmarie Cobb: Community organizer, public relations specialist and political campaign manager founder of Ida’s Legacy.
Marj Halperin: Public relations and political issues specialist and WGN-TV Democratic analyst
and Darcy Regan, director of Indivisible Chicago
We began our conversation by talking about Indivisible Chicago, which is pulling for a Democratic victory in November. “So more and more people are getting together,” Marj Halperin tells us, ” going out to canvas and support Democratic candidates. It is similar in a way but not in scale to what the Tea Party did. All of a sudden the Tea Party had all these activists – but we are larger in number and focused on the work.”
“I founded Ida’s Legacy,” Delmarie Cobb begins. “It’s a political action committee and it’s specifically to advance and develop African American women candidates, because African American women are the most loyal block of the Democratic Party. We turn out at higher numbers than any other identifiable group, yet not actually acknowledging our own power.”
“The failing of Democrats,” she adds, “is that Republicans vote every two years and Democrats vote every four years, and this time we are saying oh no, that’s not going to happen this time. And we have to thank this president for that because we probably would be sitting on the sidelines once again and they would be gaining more seats in every body of government across the country…We’ve got to step it up, and plus all the insults is certainly helping get people active.”
Darcie Regan adds another dimension. “And also focusing on young people. At Indivisible we’ve been doing a lot of outreach to high schoolers, early college age kids to make sure they are registered and also to set up a plan so they do vote.”
Cobb gives an example of how difficult political power can be to access in Chicago.”You had, I believe, six aldermen about a year ago who stood up and endorsed Mayor Rahm Emanuel for re-election. Prior to him saying he was going to run for re-election and following Laquan McDonald. And these were black aldermen. And the fact that they could do that says that they don’t see any repercussions. They are there for life and so I can do that, and they span the age group and they span the city, the west side and south side, but they felt confident enough to do that…I mean that is a major statement…because they know people don’t come out to vote. When you have 50,000 people in a ward and you get 4,000 people who came out to vote then no, you don’t have to worry…It matters that only 20% turnout took place immediately following Laquan McDonald. So how angry are you? Are you so angry that you are going to go out on Michigan Avenue but not angry enough to go to the polling place?”
Cobb talks with regret about the declining black population in Chicago. “African Americans 100 years ago came here because it was the land of opportunity. They are leaving in droves because of the lack of opportunity. That’s an indictment on what’s happening in the city.”
And a factor in that dissatisfaction, Cobb asserts, is the way in which the poorest people are often disproportionately hit in the wallet for taxes and fees. “We are always looking at other ways to make up revenue and all the other ways we are looking to make up revenue are all more regressive – you know, gambling. Who does gambling hurt? Gambling hurts poor people. You look at video gaming. The communities that made $75,000 and up were the communities that opted out. The poor communities stayed in, and so the only people who it hurts are poor people…There are other ways to bring in additional revenue without taxing people over and over and over again, and the people who can least afford it should not be the ones where you go, should not be bearing the brunt of everything. She adds, as an example, the fact that the Lottery draws $30 million from the community of Roseland. “Imagine if $30-million a year was going into Roseland instead of coming out of Roseland? she asks.
And we conclude with some analysis of the ongoing Van Dyke trial, which, as recorded Thursday morning, was coming close to a conclusion. “Our city has to come to grips with the balancing act that is about a legitimate role for police and a respect for the community,” Halperin asserts. “The Police Union is not helping. They need to be a part of that. It’s repulsive to me the statements that come out from the Union and I am a Union supporter in every sense.”
You can watch the show by tapping the image above.