Americans–at least those in D.C.–are in an uproar over President Donald Trump” and former Vice President Joe Biden’s attempt to clout personal favors in Ukraine.
Shocked we’re supposed to be that a politician would deploy his official powers to lag some lucrative business to his son(s) or gain political advantage over an opponent.
For Chicagoans, it’s business as usual and certainly no cause for tossing someone out of office or losing an election.
Consider the heart of the charges against Trump and Biden, but substitute the name of your favorite Chicago office holder for theirs:
Alderman A has worked a deal to get his son a cushy, $50,000-a-month position with Company X, whose business he knows nothing about. When the local prosecutor smells some stink about the deal, Alderman A threatens to withhold a big pile of cash unless the prosecutor is stopped. The prosecutor is fired and Alderman A brags about it.
Mayor B, who is being challenged in the next election by Alderman A, responds by implying he would unleash his considerable mayoral power unless the case against Rival Candidate is reopened. They have Mayor B on tape making a promise of good times to come for everyone, in the same conversation in which he explicitly asks for a criminal investigation against Rival Candidate.
In Washington, it’s got pols from both sides hyperventilating, calling for investigations here, prosecutions there and an impeachment everywhere. Both sides are right and both sides are wrong: Both can be accused of using their political beef to harvest a golden crop of power- and cash-building favors.
In Chicago, it’s the stock in trade. And why not? Look at all the good things that the Chicago Way has sired:
A city that’s possibly the next to go bankrupt. A city from which thousands are fleeing. A city that is about to get squashed with even higher taxes to pay for all the insider and special interest (read: Chicago Teachers Union) deals that have enriched them.A city that sends aldermen and others off to prison with the regularity of a train schedule.
Same goes for the state of Illinois, where the Chicago Way is the operating manual.
Not that the Chicago Way hasn’t been the practice in the nation’s capital. Its practice is simply being exposed in a dramatic and passionate stink fest. So the outrage is a good thing. Let the impeachment hearings begin. Let a grand jury probe Biden’s qui pro quo. Let prosecutors investigate the use of government power for political purposes, whether it is Trump or Hillary Clinton. Let investigations into every aspect of foreign intervention in American elections proceed wherever it leads.
Bring it all on. Before the Chicago Way becomes the American Way.
Want to subscribe to the Barbershop? Type your email address in the box and click the “create subscription” button. My list is completely spam free, and you can opt out at any time.