There's something else I wanted to say about Ben Joravasky's Reader piece, "Daley is a Wife Beater, and I his spouse". Having already had my fill of chuckles over the whole thing - making a list of other such folks you could compare him to for similar over the topness to show just how whacked out of their mind this crowd is. I think I settled on Nero and Mao being the funniest. That's not the only chuckles to be had as you're reading through the obligatory litany punching bag issues, the bold shocking revelation that Chicago likes winners, followed by an ideological teary eyed plea for mercy, "A vote for the opposition—whoever the opposition is—is a vote of defiance against a system that needs to be changed". Of course as we all know, even if Red Line Chicago turns out in force to attempt to even make a statement, the election will still be a complete and thorough butt kicking.
I’ve had people tell me that as much as they despise the mayor’s policies they’re afraid to vote against him because chaos will ensue if he loses. I remember machine aldermen using that line as far back as 1979, when Jane Byrne was running against Mayor Michael Bilandic. To hear them talk, you’d have thought the city would fall apart—the Sears Tower would jump in the lake, as Mike Royko satirically put it four years later, when it was Harold Washington running against the machine and chaos again was predicted. Well, guess what: under Byrne and Washington, and Eugene Sawyer for that matter, city workers picked up the garbage, cleared the snow, salted the streets. The trains and buses ran—a hell of a lot better than they run today.
The implied premise is that The Machine is still alive in Chicago. That, Cermak's largely organic and somewhat popularist method of government from the 1930's still has the gears running today as it did during King Richard I's rule. That's a notion that I've never been certain of.
I believe that there are still some good ol' fashioned Machine based roots somewhere in the Daley II apparatus. I believe that there still is a good ol' boy network of political favoritism. I'm sure that there are still plenty of old mechanizations that remain in city government. I do not believe that when you sum up whatever is left of The Machine you still have any system that resembles Cermak's Machine which if you're tracing lineage, to say that Daley I was the result of the Cermak Machine, and Daley II is the result of Daley I you would have to find some similarities.
You may have something else. Maybe over the last 50 years the Machine has evolved. Or maybe the myth of the Machine perpetuates while the reality of it has been in a true decline since 83. Perhaps the reason why the Red Line Liberals have had so much difficulty defeating the Machine is because it no longer exists. It's possible that what's left of the Machine's architecture is woven so deeply into city government that it is not something that can be realized and rooted out by any increase in Aldermanic spine or reform Mayors.