Friday, January 1, 2016

Chicago: A Touch of the Middle East in America's Midwest

June 2, 1787

“Mr. Dickenson moved that the Executive be made removeable by the National Legislature on the request of a majority of the Legislatures of individual States. ‘It was necessary he said to place the power of removing somewhere.’”

                                                Madison’s Notes, Constitutional Convention

Another damning report on events in Chicago, this one providing details into the sequence that resulted in a payoff to keep the Laquan McDonald shooting under wraps followed by predictions that Rahm was done. He may be, but still the most important detail to emerge in this whole scandal is that Chicago doesn’t have a procedure for removing a Mayor. As such a provision would seem rather obviously necessary in a democracy it’s telling that one doesn’t exist in Chicago.

In truth, the focus on Rahm misses the point. The case in Chicago, with due allowances made, is rather like our foreign policy problems in the Middle East. The easy part is removing the current strongman who’s suddenly been rendered vulnerable. But the essential question is how to bring about some measure of good government when the institutional norms and support structure for self-government are absent.

Rahm ousted will still leave the people in place who went along with the payoff. The activists asserting themselves in this controversy, are they better or worse than the leaders they are shoving aside? You could clean house and start from scratch, but what makes you think the voter’s would choose any more wisely than they have to date? Rahm’s disgrace is well earned and he deserves to go. But then the same could be said for Mubarak and Gaddafi.

UPDATE: this is both a good column and also what I have in mind when I say the point is being missed.

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