Sunday, December 03, 2017

Before It's Too Late, Again

I highly recommend this vintage hour of This American Life on the late, great Harold Washington, which for some reason will not embed on this blog.

It is a period which I lived through and have written about several times and from which our current crop of American political journalists and Big Thinkers have learned virtually nothing.


Habitat Vic said...

Great trip down memnory lane listening to that PUblic Radio clip, as I also lived in Chicago during the Harold Washington years. Remember Harold mopping the floor in a debate with Byrne and the younger Daley (good Lord, Daley came across as an idiot back then).

Yes, Harold fit some white people's stereotypes: fast talking, used "fancy words," and worst of all "uppity." Thing is, he really was that smart. Those words weren't thrown in just to sound impressive, he truly understood them. And his quotes of classic literature, Latin phrases, etc. Enough that this (at the time) young Republican voted for him versus the last minute White Hope, Republican Bernie Epton. Fun fact: Epton was a liberal, Jewish, war hero Republican. Yep, they actually existed.

Sadly, I also remember being surprised at how many of my family/relatives (dyed in the wool, blue collar Democrats) were against Washington. Guess I was naive, or willfully blind to the rascism, but Boy Howdy, it was there.

As noted, Harold Washington laid some political foundation (eventually contributed staff - David Axelrod) to a young Obama. The analogies of racial backlash from Wahington, compared to post-Obama America are many, and rather disheartening.

Jimbo said...

I wasn't living in the USA then (working overseas) but this is a really sad story. The Chicago Machine is really nasty no question. Very different from the Republican Machine. The former is mostly about big city politics and corruption; the latter is about national politics and corruption. Guess which one has greater impact.

starskeptic said...

To this mix, I'd like to add Fire on the Prairie: Harold Washington, Chicago Politics, and the Roots of the Obama Presidency by Gary Rivlin,
although the original subtitle Chicago's Harold Washington and the Politics of Race is a much more accurate description of the book as the one for the updated version is merely an attempt to seem topical.