An outsider looks at Daleys, asks if the era is really over

9 Mar

Chicago's mayor Richard M. Daley. (Photo courtesy of Creative Commons)

By Marin Kolev

(This opinion piece is by Marin Kolev, a graduate student from Bulgaria in the College of Communication.)

After 43 years of reign, the mighty Daley Regime in Chicago ended. On Feb. 22, Rahm Emanuel changed the history of the Windy City.

Last Sept. 7, Richard M. Daley announced that he was not going to run for re-election. We all got caught in a whirlwind of news, names of prospective candidates and predictions. Names were dropped in and out every day from the list of candidates. Chicago got into a campaign mode with candidates everywhere greeting people.

When we talk about politics and elections, there is always that sense of expectation for discussions, serious talk, platforms, breakdowns of issues and social problems. On the contrary, during the 2011 mayoral election in Chicago, local media outlets focused on dramatic events.

Emanuel made the most fuss with his residency issues. People talked about his residency more than about his ideas of how to fix the budget deficit of the city, the corruption or the crime rate.

Carol Mosley Braun, on the other hand, tried to get more attention with her statement that she was bullied as a child. Then we had to hear the name of the girl that bullied her and find out if that was true or not.

All of that was unnecessary and of zero importance for Chicago’s future. Residents could stop watching Bravo’s Real Housewives. They had a new show: The Real Mayors of Chicago.

There is no doubt that the 2011 election is a historic event for the Windy city. For the past 56 years there hasn’t been a mayoral election in Chicago without an incumbent candidate.

Since 1955, when Richard J. Daley came into office, there have been only five people that separated father and son on that position. Two were not even elected by the people, but from the city council because of Harold Washington’s death.

I was born in 1985 in Bulgaria during a communist regime that lasted for 45 years. Being an international observer of the American democratic society, I can see that people are scared of communism here.

But I find it funny that the mayoral monopoly of Chicago in the hands of the Daley family lasted almost as long as the Communist regime in an Eastern European country. It is also funny that, 1989 is the year when Communism in my home country collapsed and Richard M. Daley took the reign over Chicago.

In my opinion, Communism, Socialism and democracy are platforms in politics used as labels. And sometimes dictatorship is disguised behind these labels.

With the current events in Egypt, we can see that the only power that can terminate a dictatorship is the civic society. Richard M. Daley ended his political era by himself, and then everything was in the hands of Chicagoans.

But is it really the end of the Daley Regime for Chicago?

Brother William M. Daley just replaced Rahm Emanuel as a Chief of Staff in the White House and we still have another brother, John P. Daley remaining on the Cook County Board of Commissioners.

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