Chicago mayor Richard Daley, left, introduces his wife Maggie, right, to China's President Hu Jintao before a meeting of business leaders Thursday, Jan. 20, 2011 in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
If you Google “Chicago City Council” and “Politburo,” you come up with some interesting results.
For example, here’s 49th Ward Ald. Joe Moore, in a Sun-Times endorsement questionnaire, complaining that Mayor Daley appoints the heads of City Council committees.
“In a process very reminiscent of the Soviet Politburo, the City Council for years has allowed the Mayor to pick its leadership,” Moore wrote.
And here’s author Roger L. Simon, on Pajamas Media, comparing Chicago to China: “They are both perfected examples of crony capitalism. In Chicago and Beijing, Shanghai, etc., it’s not what you know, but who you know.”
It’s no wonder Mayor Daley is so excited about Chinese President Hu Jintao’s visit. Our two political systems, Daleyism and Communism, have a lot in common.
In both China and Chi-town, political and social advancement is based on one thing: loyalty to the party. In China, it’s the Communist Party. In Chicago, it’s the Cook County Democratic Regular Democratic Organization. Both systems were founded by paunchy, charismatic leaders who died in 1976 following decades in power, and both have been venerated in local iconography ever since.
In China, Mao Zedong’s portrait hangs in every public building. In Chicago, Richard J. Daley’s name has been attached to a school, a library, a courthouse and a fishing competition.
Both Chicago and China are ambivalent about Democracy. At this week’s state dinner, President Obama referred delicately to the fact that the U.S. and China have different political systems. Here in Chicago, we’re so worried about chaos when our autocratic leader leaves office that we’re going to vote in his handpicked successor to be our next autocratic leader. As Hu Jintao followed Jiang Zemin, Rahm Emanuel will follow Richard M. Daley.
To be fair, though, China is more repressive than Chicago. When students rallied for Democracy in Tiananmen Square in 1989, the Chinese government killed them. When students rallied for democracy in Grant Park in 1968, the Chicago police only beat them up.
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