Lori Lightfoot was the flipside of the Trump coin

Lori Lightfoot was the flipside of the Trump coin

I like lots of career politicians; I’m not against all career politicians. – Jeff Greene

The fact that it took me 15 minutes to find a semi-positive quote on career politicians – and it was the only one I could find – clearly demonstrates how negative that two-word term has become. That’s why whenever a neophyte candidate runs, you can count on them explaining their love of mom, apple pie, children, and that they’re not a career politician.

But if you think about it, electing someone on the basis of a lack of experience is quite a terrifying proposition. When was the last time you heard someone say, “Nah! I’m going with my buddy Steve for the open-heart surgery. I’m tired of career physicians and Steve will bring a fresh perspective to the operating room.”

It’s not going to end well for our intrepid patient, just like the Grand Cheeto’s reign didn’t end well for us. The overly simplistic voter notions that “Donald Trump speaks his mind” and “I’m tired of career politicians” aren’t nearly the basis upon which to elect a president – or choose a heart surgeon for that matter.

Conventional wisdom, an oxymoron of the highest post-COVID order, dictates that only Republicans are prone to this kind of crazy candidate conundrum. But while the Trumps, Greenes, and Boeberts love to open their mouths and remove all doubt, the Dems more subtle approach to this type of insanity is no less destructive.

Take Lori Lightfoot, Chicago’s first one-and-done mayor since the infamous Jane Byrne was unceremoniously booted out of office forty years ago. I may make fun of my exaggerated capacity to aggravate absolutely everyone, but Lori Lightfoot actually managed to pull it off.

She fought with J. B. Pritzker and  she did battle with the entire city council. Then she dissed the Chicago Teachers Union, the Fraternal Order of Police, senate president Dan Harmon, the firefighters union, and the entire Chicago business community. As one local pundit told the Tribune, “She picks fights for reasons unknown to most people.”


Lightfoot couldn’t build any form of consensus, a requirement to successfully govern. She even alienated supporters at a record pace, most of whom backed other 2023 candidates or simply ran against her. Tenth ward alderman Susan Garza went from exchanging lovey dovey texts with Heronner to telling the Chicago Reader, “I have never met anybody who has managed to piss off every single person they come in contact with – police, fire, teachers, aldermen, businesses, manufacturing, and that’s it.”

It was that inability to be a catalyst for compromise that forced her to break virtually every one of her campaign promises. That includes but isn’t nearly limited to, new taxes on the rich to fund homeless programs, an elected school board, a robust environment department, “rooting out corruption,” heralding a new level of reform and transparency, and the biggest bust of all, making Chicago “the safest big city in the country.”

And just like it was with Trump, Lightfoot’s political self-immolation came at the hands of an utter inability to withstand the least bit of adversity or criticism.

After McDonald’s CEO Chris Kempczinski said his company would stay in Chicago but had concerns about crime, Lightfoot replied that he should “educate himself” before speaking. She mocked the Bears move to Arlington Heights tweeting “They should focus on putting a winning team on the field, beating the Packers finally and being relevant past October.” When white folks complained about public safety issues she berated them for “experiencing crime for the first time.”

All I can say is I have to bow to the master, because even after 17 fascinating years at the keyboard, I still haven’t managed to accomplish what she did in less than four.

This is the problem with political novices who manage to get elected. Their lack of experience swiftly slaps them upside the head in the form of the stark realization that a Mayor can’t simply issue a Picard-esque “make it so” and it’ll happen. They don’t understand that nothing moves forward without the advice and consent of the “legislature,” or in this case, the often-difficult Chicago city council.

Like Trump, Lightfoot was swept into office on a populist wave beating the politically powerful Cook County chairman Toni Preckwinkle on her way to winning all 50 Chicago wards, which is no small feat. That makes her precipitous fall one for the Second City ages. When you consider the Windy City’s history of chewing politicians up and spitting them out, that’s no small feat, either.

In the end, Lightfoot’s meteoric rise and fall basically boils down to the current social phenomenon known as “identity politics.”

Those lakefront liberals, black progressives, and even the local news media couldn’t help but swoon over the thought of a gay black female mayor as if there was some inherent value in those three propositions. They thought, by virtue of being a triple minority, Lightfoot would waft into city hall on a cloud borne by a choir of angels and everything would magically fall into place.

But it didn’t fall into place because Lori Lightfoot lacked the experience necessary to govern and she hadn’t grown the kind of thick skin required to preside over the worsening morass we call the City of Chicago. The fact that she was gay, black, and female, had absolutely no bearing on her capacity to lead.

I’m convinced that Martin Luther King is doing 360s in his grave as he ponders how the pendulum has swung from dismissing minorities on the basis of their gender, sexuality, and skin color, to embracing them based solely upon the same meaningless criteria. Despite what so many Republican voters want to believe, ignorance is not a virtue nor is a lack of political experience. So, my suggestion would be to heed Mr. King’s counsel about judging a candidate by the content of their character, and their track records, not their minority status.

Leave a Reply