Rahmbo’s Latino Problem

January 16, 2011

An interesting story in yesterday’s Christian Science Monitor looks at the electoral prospects of former White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, who is looking to to succeed long-time Chicago mayor and political boss Richard Daley.

The writer makes a number of interesting points about the difficulties Emanuel faces in reassuring Hispanic voters that he is in their corner. Now normally, if he were to emulate the Daley model of incorporating ethnic voting blocs into his campaign he would simply lay on the patronage. Promise visible Latino political leaders jobs in his administration, lard up the campaign payroll with Hispanics-and since he’s a prodigious fund raiser, this task could be easily accomplished-and generally spread the wealth/bribes around.

Unfortunately, Emanuel confronts a unique problem that most aspiring pols in Chicago don’t have. Namely, as a national leader of the Democratic Party he was forced to craft policy positions that would appeal to that broad middle of the nation’s electorate that generally shuns the radical, racially divisive solutions proposed by open borders maximalists like Luis Gutierrez. So, as this article describes, he gave other House Democrats freedom to vote for a tough, enforcement-only immigration bill devised by Rep. Sensenbrenner. On the other hand, the accusation that he could have single-handedly persuaded recalcitrant Senate Democrats-who provided the decisive margin of defeat for the DREAM Act-to support amnesty doesn’t seem to be grounded in anything more substantive than wishful thinking.

In the end, I doubt that the anti-Emanuel forces among Hispanic activists in the city of Chicago can prevent him from assuming office in a Democratic primary that is increasingly looking like a coronation. As the article points out, Emanuel is already lapping his closest Latino opponent among Latino voters who’ve declared a preference, and I doubt that anything said or done between now and the election will change that. Rahm has too much name recognition, too much money, and too many influential backers among the Daley and Obama machines for his campaign to be derailed at this point in time.

Most importantly-and this is something Hispanic political activists are loathe to acknowledge-there are simply not enough pro-amnesty, anti-Emanuel, Hispanic voters in the city to prevent Rahm Emanuel from becoming the next mayor of Chicago. As much as demagogues like Congressman Gutierrez might like to claim that they hold the keys to The Kingdom, the truth is that they are not the ones who control the levers of political power in this country. The open borders lobby has quite consciously made itself an insular, Mexican-centric, ethnically monolithic special interest group. And in order to thrive politically in a city like Chicago, you need a patchwork of ethnic constituencies-most of whom share neither your passions nor your enemies-to support your candidacy.

And that is why Rahm Emanuel will be Mayor Emanuel, and why Luis Gutierrez will have to come to him with his begging bowl when everything is said and done.

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