Matt Reichel, Green activist and former candidate, reflects on his time in Chicago and the rise of ‘googoos’

Read the whole piece at Dissident Voice:

The only candidate resembling a progressive, City Clerk Miguel Del Valle, limped home with 9% of the vote: a sad reminder that populism is entirely dead in Chicago. He did inspire a fairly impressive ground game, but these don’t amount to votes in the era of the “googoo,” because these foul creatures demand that you have the endorsement of the daily rag for their approval. They will mock your leaflet, spite your populist rhetoric, disparage you for questioning the status quo, and flock to support anyone given the nod by the Trib or Sun Times

Here we see ourselves mourning the death of the machine, for it has been replaced with something even worse. We have gone from blue-collar semi-populist sensibilities to the singular class: the amorphous class of supposedly well-intentioned yuppies. While the machine diverted union interests to the corporate-laded Democratic Party to no one’s benefit, at least their organization required that support. On occasion, the unions could still flex their muscle in this old game. Nowadays, Rahm managed to win despite airing commercials dissing public sector workers, and calling for an era where they work on a purely contractual basis.

I spent the day campaigning for del Valle and myself in a vanity Green Party run for alderman in an abundantly “googoo” ward. Without much time and money, I primarily used my campaign as a chance to stump for Mr. Del Valle. In this ward, the corporate press manufactured an “upset,” by endorsing a nonentity of a googoo over the anointed machine hack (I did not participate in the corporate press endorsement process.) The victor, Ameya Pawar, is a 30-year old with no meaningful political background or coherent political philosophy. This is quite possibly the greatest political upset I have ever witnessed, as he knew little about the dynamics of campaigning, evidenced by the lack of “union bugs” on his material, and the absence of any visible ground game. The “corporate press” now possesses the unencumbered capacity to anoint victors. The unimaginative populace has almost no ability to think on their own, beyond trivial dichotomies. Both corporate newspapers painted this as an “us vs. them” race of a “David vs. Goliath” nature, wherein the longshot got their approval, in large part because he was a harmless googoo running against a machine charlatan.

I spent nearly the whole of Election Day striking up conversation with machine goons at polling places. We stood out in the cold, passing palm cards to voters as they trickled in. One yuppie googoo, en passant, refused both of our palm cards, declaring: “You’re the machine hack, and you’re a left-wing nut! Don’t bother me!” That was the microcosm of our day.

10 thoughts on “Matt Reichel, Green activist and former candidate, reflects on his time in Chicago and the rise of ‘googoos’

  1. pete healey

    @Matt, welcome to Orwell’s world, where everyone is “classless and free”. The upside of course is that the majority of people (most of the sensible ones) don’t bother to participate in the rigged, closed system that produces goons and hacks, and now googoos, and not much else.

  2. Fun K. Chicken

    “One yuppie googoo, en passant, refused both of our palm cards, declaring: “You’re the machine hack, and you’re a left-wing nut! Don’t bother me!”

    Name calling like Yuppie googoo aside, why is that not a valid perspective? The person disagrees with two other perspectives, and expressed that disagreement by not taking their slate vote cards, which he/she already knew came from different points of view than his/her own. Sounds like a completely reasonable reaction.

  3. Ross

    Matt didn’t say it was an unreasonable opinion by itself. But given who the passerby was, it’s an unreasonable statement and situation.

  4. paulie

    In what ways would this person have had to be different for that opinion to be valid? Why would it be more or less valid coming from someone else?

    I’ll just take myself as an example. Let’s say I went to vote (if I was allowed to vote) and Democrats and Republicans were handing out their pamphlets outside the polls. It’s possible I may be in a bad mood that day and tell them to shove their pamphlets where the sun does not shine.

    In real life this would not happen, not only because I’m not allowed to vote due to not having a current ID and not using an SS number so I can’t get a current ID, but also because I have been on the handing-out-stuff end of such exchanges and realize that the people doing it are probably not the ones my anger is or should be directed at, but rather the people that hired them or the people above them.

    Also, Matt probably would not think I’m a yuppie, since I don’t dress or generally come across that way. But suppose I had on a suit that day…every once in a while I actually wear one.

    Would that make my opinion less valid than if I was wearing a Belushi T-shirt, Jeans, cheap shoes from K-Mart and two days growth of beard, which is more typical for me?

  5. Ross

    I’m just saying, in the context of the piece, Matt Reichel is criticizing yuppies, in part for their inability to take a passionate stance on anything. So they don’t like the machine, but they don’t like any coherent alternative either. By itself, there’s nothing wrong with the comment, no matter who said it – it’s an opinion. But in the context of the piece and Matt Reichel’s view of Chicago politics, it represents a flawed course of political action.

  6. paulie

    I’m just saying, in the context of the piece, Matt Reichel is criticizing yuppies, in part for their inability to take a passionate stance on anything.

    Except that the one example, the voter mentioned at the end, actually did take a stand and sounded at least a little passionate about it. It’s just that it was a different stand than Reichel’s.

    So they don’t like the machine, but they don’t like any coherent alternative either.

    Reichel describes the winning candidate as incoherent, and by implication all the voters that voted for him. Do we know that this is accurate? Perhaps they just have a different agenda.

    By itself, there’s nothing wrong with the comment, no matter who said it – it’s an opinion. But in the context of the piece and Matt Reichel’s view of Chicago politics, it represents a flawed course of political action.

    From the other person’s perspective, it would seem entirely rational not to take slate cards from slates he/she already knows he/she disagrees with. The opinion expressed did not sound incoherent or dispassionate. It just sounded like someone Reichel disagrees with, and therefore is characterizing that way. But reading the actual description of the event, it does not come across that way.

  7. Ross

    We don’t know it’s accurate, no…it is just Reichel’s opinion. I’m not really sure what your point is. He is just voicing his opinion there.

    I was just describing how Reichel characterized the person.

  8. paulie

    I wasn’t taking any issue with your reporting of his opinion. Sorry if anything I said made it sound like I was. It just seems to me that Reichel’s characterization is either too hasty, inaccurate, or both.

  9. Nancy

    Matt,
    You fail to mention that there was a grassroots movement, it just backed Ameya Pawar instead of you. Activists (far from the yuppy construct) with more than 50 years of political experience, decided that his platform, which was explicit and clear, was a more appropriate choice for the job. The urban planning/social service/emergency management experience that Mr. Pawar has, is much more valid for the aldermanic job. That is also why the Teacher’s Union backed him, instead of you. I admire anyone who goes out there and makes an independent statement, and I like the Green Party platform, but your campaign seemed to show scant understanding of the actual aldermanic job. Don’t bemoan the lack of a populist movement, a populist movement brought the community Mr. Pawar. I’d say it may be time for you to examine if you actually have your finger on the pulse of the community you intend to serve, or if railing against the people’s vote is more important to you.

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