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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 2/4/09

Why the Obamas Should Move Back to Chicago

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Let’s send Obama back to Chicago and have him set up his administration there. At least in Chicago, where the corruption is more apparent and funnier, he can wield power in a new way. He can sit comfortably at home, smoke a cigarette or two whenever he feels like it and concentrate on the business of governing this huge country and its effects on the rest of the world. While sitting at home, sleeping in his own bed, he can be relieved of the most awful effects of what passes for governance in the country’s capital and put an end to the culture it has fostered.

I can think of no better way to eradicate the most ill-gotten forms of corporate and governmental synchronicity than by refusing to serve in the town that allows such corruption to continue. It is embarrassing that while Lincoln and Jefferson sit watching that the most outrageous distortions of the laws and rights our democracy promises are trampled by those elected to do the people’s work.

It seems in this case the people’s work is all about making the congress wealthy and when they leave those hallowed halls making them even wealthier. I am not talking about any one party or group from one specific geographic location. At this point it seems pretty clear that we can all point our fingers at almost any sector of this group and declare them all infected by something that must be in the water in DC. For what else can account for the widespread and never ending news accounts of the kind of financial gains made by people we have elected to represent us and our interests?

No matter how Daschle made his millions or that Geithner forgot to pay his taxes. They are just a bitter reminder of what government has done to some of the brightest people. No, I am not advocating voting for stupid people, but I am advocating moving the seat of government away from the place that has fostered this behavior and relocating it where it can be less influenced by all that graft and corruption.  In other words, getting it away from the water in DC and to the Chicago water system that has a far more bracing effect.

Having grown up in Chicago, I can actually confirm that no matter what you want to get done, the corruption is so blatant that no one sees the need to hide it.  A case in point comes from my own family history.  A number of years ago, when my uncle was a fresh-faced Iowa boy trying to make it big in the big city, he worked as a developer for one of the first to create those horrific strip malls. This gentleman employed my uncle to go into the newly created suburbs in order to create these malls but also gave him a word of advice. He told him to keep a twenty dollar bill tucked behind his driver’s license. That way whenever he might be stopped for a ticket, he would be able to pay the cop off immediately and move on to do the work of this gentleman’s bidding. As we all discovered, this was a hugely profitable business.  My uncle’s good fortune allowed him to tell this story with a great big smile on his face. He was innocently amazed in those days at what lessons and wealth he was gaining in this new big town.

Not much has changed, as we can glean from the tapes of the former governor. Yet, despite this, and maybe because of it, there is such an aboveboard attitude to corruption that it is markedly different from what goes on in DC. There is after all not much else to recommend Chicago as a seat of the federal government. That issue will be immediately observed, allowed for and then we can do the real people’s business--create a single-payer universal health care system, pass needed and immediate environmental legislation, go after the previous administration’s crooks and criminals, pursue justice in all the war zones we have created and put those who want peace in charge, and not finally but just for now, open up the economic discussion to those who are truly in need and need help now--the people without jobs, the people losing their homes, those on the streets and those children whose needs must be met.

The list is much longer and even in its details, those items listed above need to be talked about at length. What is clear though is that in DC the necessary discussions will never take place. Why? Because the place breeds corruption.

Another case in point. It often defies logic when I listen to John McCain talk. He has rightly been referred to as permanently on the double-talk express. While it is difficult to grasp how someone who must at some point have had the good intentions he speaks of be so completely derailed, it is now clear that the waters in DC have contaminated even those who want to make a serious commitment to their country. However, in the face of his own split-tongued pronouncements and reversals, it is obvious that no one is above the influence of those waters. They not just corrupt but intoxicate and seduce even those with the best of intentions to giving into their subtle charms.

What must it be like to live in that town and work there daily? Who can be immune from its lethal mixture of power and money? Who can ignore the militarization of the town, the unending spectacle of its own grandiosity? Yet, it is crumbling and falling apart. The mall is an embarrassment and the monuments are crumbling. Naturally, the Republicans do not want to fix any of that because it in no way benefits those it has chosen to represent. The Democrats feebly try to do the right thing but since they too are under the same influences, it is done half-heartedly and with their fingers crossed behind their backs.

If we move them and most essentially the president onto a different terrain where the waters are not as contaminated with this kind of power/greed potion, then maybe we can reform the entire system. When these daff legislators will have to actually go to Chicago to talk to the president and see him in his own environment, playing with his daughters, visiting with his friends, walking along the lake shore with his wife, perhaps they will be re-awakened to what normal life is like. That we sit down at night with whomever we choose to be with and talk about the day, who we saw, what happened at work, or at school. That we care about our neighborhood and take care of it and ourselves.

Maybe in this way we can end the imperial presidency and find a way to end the tyranny of DC and its toxic waters and in the end save this country from the people entrusted to govern it.

I never wanted to go back to Chicago. There was not enough for me there then but hey, with the president living there, who knows what can happen? And that is the point.
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Deborah Emin is the founder of the publishing company, Sullivan Street Press ( She is also the impressario of the Itinerant Book Show as well as the program director of the REZ Reading Series in Kew Gardens, NY. Her (more...)
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