Today’s Daily Beast features an article entitled "The Liberation of Rahm Emanuel" in which our mayor discusses how much he’s enjoyed moving from a democracy to a dictatorship.
“In Washington there’s a partisanship you don’t have here in the city,” the Chicago mayor tells me. “The country is very angry about the lack of progress in Washington. Individuals in Washington think they’re removed from that anger.”
Emanuel has just passed the one-year mark running America’s third-largest city, and the experience could not be more different than his tenure as a congressman and top aide to Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. He and his team aren’t “shrinking violets,” he noted, not that anyone would libel Rahm by accusing him of such a thing.
While Congress has basically done squat this year, Emanuel got his aldermen to approve his budget—including painful layoffs, fee hikes, and police-station closures—on a 50-0 vote. Not bad, considering that he inherited a $600 million deficit.
It is, of course, debatable whether government functions better when there’s no debate. One reason Emanuel inherited that $600 million deficit is that his predecessor, Richard M. Daley, was able to run the city with no oversight from the City Council. You can call what’s happening in Washington “partisanship,” or you call it the give and take between two opposing philosophies of government.
Ald. Edward Burke and Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, two politicians with very different views about how the city should be run, both said that Council Wars was “government at its best.” Nobody wants to return to the racial antagonism of the 1980s, but the City Council could use a little more partisanship, whether the mayor wants it or not.