Last year, I wanted to vote for Aaron Schock for the U.S. Senate. Schock has modeled menswear in GQ, he has great abs, and he looks like a right-wing Neil Patrick Harris. Also, I’ve been in his house in Peoria. I’ve never been in a senator’s house before.
But I wasn’t allowed to vote for my boy Aaron. There’s a clause in the U.S. Constitution that requires senators to be 30 years old. Aaron was only 29. In other words, I was disenfranchised by a group of old men in wigs who’ve been dead for more than 200 years. Is this Democracy?
Unfortunately, it is. The right to vote is not the same as the right to elect any mook you want. We can’t elect Rod Blagojevich to a third term as governor because he’s been convicted of a felony. We can’t elect Arnold Schwarzenegger president of the United States because he was born in Austria. And as long as we’re talking actor-presidents, we can’t elect Ashton Kutcher either. He’s only 33.
“[Monday], two judges ruled that Rahm’s name should not appear on the ballot when voters head to the polls to choose Chicago's next mayor,” Emanuel’s campaign manager, Scott Fairchild, wrote in an e-mail to supporters on Tuesday. “Right now, we need you to sign our petition saying voters are the ones who should choose their next mayor.”
In other words, Fairchild is suggesting that judges set aside their authority to interpret the law -- their function in a constitutional democracy -- and defer to the popular will in this case. Nowhere in the e-mail does Fairchild argue that Emanuel meets the residency requirements for mayor. Instead of debating the question before the judges, he’s saying it shouldn’t be debated at all.
But the judges are enforcing the popular will, by applying a law passed by Chicago’s democratically-elected City Council. John T. Coli, president of Teamsters Joint Council 25, joined Emanuel’s demagogic campaign by chastising the Illinois Court of Appeals for defying hundreds of union members.
“Fifty-five percent of the Teamsters have spoken and said that they want Rahm Emanuel as their next mayor, and I don’t think we should let two appellate court judges decide otherwise,” Coli said, as he endorsed Emanuel yesterday.
The Teamsters, they vote. They donate to political campaigns. They hand out palm cards on Election Day. In Illinois, judges have to stand for election, but their job is not to reflect popular whims. That is the General Assembly’s job. To fulfill his quest to become mayor, Emanuel is trying to substitute mob rule for the rule of law.
Even if Emanuel loses his case, that won't end his mayoral ambitions. He can spend four years in Chicago and run in 2015. Nobody will challenge residency then.