* We’ve talked about most of this already, but I thought I’d include it in my Sun-Times column…
Carol Moseley Braun’s loss on Tuesday was “the embarrassment of a lifetime for black people,” said Rickey Hendon moments after he resigned from the Illinois Senate on Thursday.
Hendon was just being Hendon. Rhetorical flourishes are his specialty.
The fault lies not with “black people,” but with folks who worked to make Braun the “consensus” candidate. They figured that a woman in an all-male field would be a tremendous advantage. Add that to her proven vote-getting history in the black community and she was a mighty contender on paper.
But anybody who knew anything about her U.S. Senate career understood that Braun would be a disaster. She’s simply unmanageable. Her supporters were left disappointed and dejected within months of her departure for Washington, D.C. And in the end, her election proved to be a fluke that she could not repeat.
The worst mistake by the consensus crew, however, was looking backward for a standard bearer instead of promoting someone with fresh, new ideas. That’s probably because most of the people doing the choosing cut their political teeth decades ago and have been in power so long that they’ve lost touch with today.
And it’s not like they haven’t had any recent experience to guide them. Barack Obama’s sudden ascendancy to the U.S. Senate caught the Old Guard completely by surprise. His rise to the presidency did the same for entrenched African-American leaders in other states, who mostly backed Hillary Clinton.
Toni Preckwinkle was another prominent example. There she was in a Democratic primary race with two other African-American candidates and just one white candidate and she won the Cook County Board presidency with a truly extraordinary 50 percent of the vote because of the force of her ideas and the content of her character.
Instead, the consensus crowd chose a stale, 20th century rerun in a 21st century contest. I saw a factoid that blew my mind. Braun won just one precinct in all of Chicago. One. This election wasn’t about black people rejecting the concept of black political power. It was about black voters deciding that a candidate who happened to have their same skin color was wholly unqualified to be their mayor. And the blame for that one falls squarely on the consensus crew.
It didn’t help matters much, of course, that Obama more than subtly weighed in on Rahm Emanuel’s behalf. But if a stronger, more vital candidate had been fielded, Obama might have been forced to stay away. Instead, Obama and Emanuel saw their opportunities and they took ’em.
Slowly, but surely, young African Americans are moving up the political ladder. I’ve watched several grow into maturity through service in the Illinois General Assembly. But I’ve also seen their frustration at the unwillingness of the Old Guard to relinquish their grip on power.
There have been setbacks for this new generation. Former state Representatives David Miller and Robin Kelly won Democratic primaries for statewide office last year, then lost their general election contests. Miller made an unfortunate choice of running against the very well-known Judy Baar Topinka, and Kelly just never put together much of a campaign. But just as Obama learned from his loss to Bobby Rush, the new generation can learn from Miller and Kelly. Choose your contest wisely and then go absolutely all out to win.
I do not believe Braun’s loss is the end of black political power in Chicago. I think the proper lesson to learn here is that this could be and should be the last gasp of the Old Guard. They blew it as much as she did. It’s time for something new.
* Unfiltered: Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel’s press conference
* AP: Chicago election shows racial politics changing
* Battle brewing between Ald. Burke and Emanuel?
* No Council Wars for Ald. Ed Burke and Mayor-Elect Emanuel: “Some things are said in the heat of battle,” Burke told us. He indicated that he would fight to retain his chairmanship, declaring. “Twenty six aldermen will decide whether I do or not.” In campaign disclosure reports filed last month, Burke revealed a multi-million dollar political war chest second only to Emanuel’s.
* Zorn: Mayor-elect’s first f-bomb a dud
* CS-T Editorial: Emanuel reaches out to real Chicagoans
* Schmich: Why Chicago’s election played well in the suburbs
* Some voted, some didn’t; some worried about it, some didn’t
* Brown: 47th Ward voters buck establishment
* Loop transforms into more residential area over last decade \
* Union leader: Snow OT not doled out fairly
* Sneed: South Side man arrested for threatening to kill Burke
* Daley security officer now protecting Rahm Emanuel