Wednesday, August 26, 2009


Abraham Miller pens an article today for American Thinker that begins to shed a much brighter light on the surge of Chicago machine politics to the national stage than has really been shone thus far. To be sure, I have blogged about some of Obama's tactics, particularly his dealings with and treatment of the media. Basically, when asked questions that require actual thought and real leadership-style answers, he all too conveniently relies on Mayor Daley's approach of berating the press.

The light that Miller shines in his article, while being brighter for being on American Thinker (as compared to my small efforts), is also more focused on the real machinations of the behemoth that is Chicago. A professor of politics specializing in ethnic politics, Miller has studied Chicago extensively, and is able to focus us in on what really matters. While many of us debate the high level business concerns, Miller brings us back to street level, explaining the down-and-dirty nature of this political machine:

Talk-radio host Sean Hannity can trumpet medical savings accounts on one day and talk about the forty percent of Americans who don't pay taxes the next, and he will be immune to the inconsistency because Hannity's listeners are taxpayers. But a medical savings account means nothing if you don't pay taxes.

If you don't pay taxes and don't have health insurance, you want a card in your wallet that says someone else is going to pay. You want a medical savings account and tort reform about as much as you want another Chicago winter in an unheated apartment.

If you grow up poor and minority, everyone else's gain is ill-gotten. You expect the people you elect to take from them and give to you. If they don't, then there is no point in electing them. You might as well stay home on Election Day.

Michele Malkin is upset that David Axelrod's firm is doing the public relations for Obama Care. Michele Malkin is a superb intellectual analyst of Chicago politics, but she has no visceral feel for it. When Mayor Richard J. Daley was confronted about the city's insurance business going to a sole-source brokerage run by his sons, he responded that there would be no point in being in politics if he couldn't throw a little business to his children. Why would Axelrod be in politics if he couldn't profit from it?

The emphasis added is my own. Here is the problem when taking the stance against healthcare. As we argue items like freedom of the marketplace, liberty of the individual, taxes and opening up competition across state lines, there remains the fact that we stray away from our visceral feel of Chicago politics. Indeed there is no greater example than Chicago for the concept of Organized Exploitation. As Miller points out, those people waiting for an insurance card are, to The Machine, simply statistics to be exploited.

If you want to understand Obama's health care policy, you need to start where Obama starts. You need to start with Chicago. You need to look at constituent interests.

Obama won in 2008 because, among other things, he mobilized the electoral periphery. He mobilized young voters and minority voters, people who traditionally had a lower probability of showing up on Election Day. Chicago politics is about mobilizing the vote. "Vote early and often" is the city's sardonic refrain.

Obama needs his newly socialized base. He needs them to keep coming to the polls. In the vein of Chicago politics, he needs to deliver benefits to them.

Unrewarded, the electoral periphery will revert back to apathy. Health care is a reward to this base of people who are on the economic as well as political periphery.

There is little doubt that our health care system in general requires reform. As Miller points out, along with many others, this does not require 1,000+ pages of legislation added to a government that is already nothing short of Leviathan. But, as Miller notes:

...building a new power base resulting from the mobilization of the political and economic periphery requires redefining the nation's health problems as the nation's health catastrophe.

Health reform is Chicago politics on a national level. Welcome to the city.

At least our skyline is gorgeous.

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