But today, while cities may still largely vote Democratic, they are increasingly embracing the economics of corporatism. The result is that urban areas are a driving force behind the widening intra-party rift between the corporatist, pro-privatization Wall Street Democrats and the traditional labor-progressive “Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party.”
Start with a look at Chicago, the metropolis most identifiably (and inaccurately) branded as a hotbed of labor power and liberal economics.
Fritz Lang would be scared.
In recent years, the Windy City has become “the most aggressive city in the United States in the privatization of public infrastructure,” according to the Public Interest Research Group. Citing the city’s budget crisis, officials have sold off highways and parking meters at cut-rate prices —all to pad the profits of corporate investors (the schemes are now being explored by other Democratic cities including Pittsburgh and Los Angeles). Despite this, during its once-in-a-generation contested mayoral election in 2010, the city’s voters chose investment banker Rahm Emanuel over other far more economically progressive candidates, and Emanuel quickly filled his administration with corporate consultants eager to accelerate the privatization already under way. Now, Emanuel has declared war on organized labor, with the Associated Press’s headline blaring “Even in Chicago, Mayor Goes After Labor Unions.”
The article isn’t just about Chicago’s habit of seeling off its public assets for the benefit of the few and the rich (who in turn scratch the itchy backs of thepols pushing such legislation) but also the trends and goings-ons in other quickly privatizing metros – including NYC, Denver, and Washington.
But for once, Chicago’s the First City. Just not of something we should be proud of…