Mondays with Mike: Masters of the universe–not

April 13, 2015 • Posted in Mike Knezovich, Mondays with Mike, politics, Uncategorized by

Well, Chuy Garcia lost the Chicago mayoral runoff election, despite the endorsement of the prestigious Mondays with Mike blog.

It wasn’t a bad showing considering Garcia got into the race very late, had no name recognition, and was widely considered the second or third best choice of possible opponents to the incumbent Rahm Emanuel.

Nelso Algren

Nelson Algren

That Chuy got 46 percent of the vote speaks to the depth and breadth of dissatisfaction with Emanuel as much as anything. Rahm is behaving as if he’s been chastised into turning over a new leaf. I’m not holding my breath for Scrooge on Christmas morning, though.

Meanwhile our new governor, Bruce Rauner, is doing his best Scott Walker impression. Whether he can enact some of the stuff he’s talking about is yet to be seen. I’d implore Rauner to read this piece comparing Walker’s policies to those of his Democratic counterpart in Minnesota, Governor Mark Dayton. It’s about as close to a scientific experiment as you can get in politics, and it does not speak well of Walker’s choices.

The governors of Wisconsin and Minnesota are both wealthy, Dayton probably the wealthier of the two. Which only goes to show, you can’t generalize too much based on wealth.

And it is too easy to generalize about “the rich” and “the poor,” glorifying or vilifying as we see fit. Of course, defining rich is problematic. Compared to lots of people I walk by on Chicago streets every day, I’m filthy rich. But to coin a phrase, some of my best friends are rich, and these friends are…rich. They are also thoughtful, caring and generous people. They pay attention to the world around them, outside their comfortable existences, and understand that they had some advantages as well as hardships, they understand themselves to have some responsibility for the well being of others, and of the country as a whole.

That doesn’t mean I always agree with them on government policy, or that we always vote for the same people. It does mean we have respectful conversations where I always learn something for my trouble, and hope they do, too.

But there is a particular subset of people who do worry me. They come in multiple political stripes. They’ve done well and interpret their doing well as meaning they know everything. And they get insular. They can afford to buy their way into priority everything, they don’t rub elbows with people unlike themselves. They forget they had support. That they got breaks. They develop a distorted view that assumes that those with less most certainly deserve to have less.

In the restaurant of life, these are the people who behave as if, because they’re paying for a meal, they own the servers.

In real life, these people are buying public office. They’re appointing their friends to positions in education, transportation—you name it—even though those pals have no experience in those fields. They’re doing it confidently because, well, they think they know everything. And they seem never to have enough.

It is this group—the self-appointed “masters of the universe,” to borrow from Tom Wolfe—that scares me. I’d like to think they’re acting in good faith, and that we just disagree. Instead, I’m afraid that this quote from the great Nelson Algren applies:

When we get more houses than we can live in, more cars than we can ride in, more food than we can eat ourselves, the only way of getting richer is by cutting off those who don’t have enough.

Doug On April 13, 2015 at 12:27 pm

Mike, how do you get 56% of the vote and lose? Is that Chicago politics or just a typo?

Mike On April 13, 2015 at 12:54 pm

Ha! Not even in Chicago will that work. Thanks for the catch, it was 46%. Fixed now.

satori22 On April 13, 2015 at 1:23 pm

Hey Mike;

Unfortunately, the 1% among the 99% copy the behavior of the real 1%. They hire their do-nothing, know-nothing friends and relatives who also have no idea about how to provide high quality supportive services to the people who really need it. The problem is they don’t know they don’t know thus limiting their ability to learn. So, maybe this has more to do with how one thinks about self and others than how much money one has via hard work or silver spoon. Either way, it sucks. Have a good day.

Janet On April 13, 2015 at 2:08 pm

elections end but movements continue….our city was and is energized and having just returned from an international conference on urban issues, the world is watching still and has our back.

Mike On April 13, 2015 at 3:06 pm

That’s good to hear, look forward to details.

Mel Theobald On April 13, 2015 at 9:12 pm

Hey Mike, just want you to know that because of your pre-election post which I shared with several friends, they were all converted into Chuy supporters. One who was not going to vote even left work early to get to the polls. Yes he lost, but the machine has to pay attention. Let’s hope the city council will not rubber stamp the passports of the wealthy. You’ve said so much that makes sense, I felt like an armed warrior even though we lost the battle. But the war rages on. Thank you.

Mike On April 13, 2015 at 9:58 pm

Mel, thank you, that’s enormously gratifying. I’m like you, I think we got something started.

Mondays with Mike: This Price is right | Safe & Sound blog On April 20, 2015 at 7:00 am

[…] But! I did run across one thing that buoyed my spirits last week. In my last post, I wrote about the masters of the universe who lose touch with the world inhabited by those who aren’t as fortunate as they are, and who […]

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