Wednesday, October 05, 2016

Republican Fiorello La Guardia and Others - Why I am Still a Democrat. We Lost the Way With Policy

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I get told all of the time that I am 'no Democrat.'  I am also told I am no George Clooney.  No skin off of my broad manly ass.

I voted against Barack Obama in 2008, because, like a boxer, the 'guys' were bringing him up way too fast.  As long as the pugilist trope is open, also, because in 2003 at the Saber Room in Hickory Hills, Illinois on freezing and blizzardy night, Illinois State Senator Barack Obama got all pissy with me.

At an amateur boxing exhibition hosted by Leo Boxing Team, I was tasked with squiring around the presenters - elected officials, local notables, high school coaches and such persons who would honor the boxers with a trophy. Orland Park Police Chief Tim McCarthy, the man who saved Ronald Reagan and Illinois Representative Kevin McCarthy were also present, along with Chicago Alderman Walter Burnett.

Senator Obama was visibly agitated when I instructed him, " Senator, give a trophy to each boxer; hold up their arms together, thank the judges and then you can give your spiel."  The Senator whined, " How in the Hell am I supposed to get in there?  Where's the Gate?"  My response, " Are You #$%^ing kidding me? Climb though the ropes."

I did not vote for Barack Obama in 2012, because he totally lived up to my very low expectations set by my previous meetings with him and the fact that Valerie Jarrett was running the show.  I could be wrong, but nothing has convinced me other wise.

Each year, fewer people of substance, worth an good grace stand for public office and throngs of mean-spirited, shallow, smarmy, not-very-bright and corrupt people become Aldermen, State Representatives, State Senators, Congressmen and Senators.  Out of thin air we learn that a Kim Foxx is smarter than Minerva and more constant than Calpurnia.  Toni Preckwinkle, a humorless dim bulb and Cook County Board President insists so, though I doubt Toni could tell you Minerva and Calpurnia were not members of the Vandellas.

I am at soul and heart a Democrat nevertheless.

I admired President Truman, JFK, Senators Daniel Patrick Moynihan, Hubert Humphrey and Old Mayor Daley.

I grew up learning how politics and good politicians can help people suffering during hard times.  The Ward bosses took care of people with disabilities, the elderly, the homeless, the disenfranchised, the immigrants and troubled without a policy road map, or programs.  I am a Chicago Democrat, because that is what we were. In Kankakee, kids were Republican, all except for John and Marion McKenna's kids and the Shapiros*, for the same reason.   A politician who took care of people -not because of policy - did good and deserved support.

One of my heroes was Republican New York Mayor and Tammany Hall Fiorello " The Little Flower" La Guardia.  I learned of him when I was about seven years old and my Mom and Dad went to a musical at Drury Lane Theatre in 1959.

I asked my Dad about the play.  He told me it was about a great man, a Republican Mayor.  I asked immediately, "In what country?"

I learned that it was far away New York City.  I tried getting my head around a 'great man' who was a Republican - like Mrs. Witry - the only one on the planet as far as I knew.

He told me a story about this Mayor La Guardia that I re-read recently on Christian website - one that is prbably verboten to a 2016 Stronger Together Democrat.  A guy by the name of Brennan Manning wrote this which coincided with my Dad's yarn of yore:

A story is told about Fiorello LaGuardia, who, when he was mayor of New York City during the worst days of the Great Depression and all of WWII, was called by adoring New Yorkers ‘the Little Flower’ because he was only five foot four and always wore a carnation in his lapel. He was a colorful character who used to ride the New York City fire trucks, raid speakeasies with the police department, take entire orphanages to baseball games, and whenever the New York newspapers were on strike, he would go on the radio and read the Sunday funnies to the kids.
One bitterly cold night in January of 1935, the mayor turned up at a night court that served the poorest ward of the city. LaGuardia dismissed the judge for the evening and took over the bench himself. Within a few minutes, a tattered old woman was brought before him, charged with stealing a loaf of bread. She told LaGuardia that her daughter’s husband had deserted her, her daughter was sick, and her two grandchildren were starving. But the shopkeeper, from whom the bread was stolen, refused to drop the charges.
“It’s a real bad neighborhood, your Honor.” the man told the mayor. “She’s got to be punished to teach other people around here a lesson.” LaGuardia sighed. He turned to the woman and said “I’ve got to punish you. The law makes no exceptions—ten dollars or ten days in jail.” But even as he pronounced sentence, the mayor was already reaching into his pocket. He extracted a bill and tossed it into his famous sombrero saying: “Here is the ten dollar fine which I now remit; and furthermore I am going to fine everyone in this courtroom fifty cents for living in a town where a person has to steal bread so that her grandchildren can eat. Mr. Baliff, collect the fines and give them to the defendant.”
So the following day the New York City newspapers reported that $47.50 was turned over to a bewildered old lady who had stolen a loaf of bread to feed her starving grandchildren, fifty cents of that amount being contributed by the red-faced grocery store owner, while some seventy petty criminals, people with traffic violations, and New York City policemen, each of whom had just paid fifty cents for the privilege of doing so, gave the mayor a standing ovation.
Brennan Manning, The Ragmuffin Gospel, Multnomah, 1990, pp. 91-2

Mayor La Guardia was a complex man.  His father was an Italian Catholic atheist and his mother was Jewish.  La Guardia was Episcopalian, which is Catholic without the rules - they have have been a moveable feast from Horny Henry 8 on to this day.  He was a reformer, but not a scold.  He lived the life and not the policy.

I will not vote for a politician who who can not act like an honest human being, because of policy.

To me that is what I learned a Democrat must be.  Or, a good Kankakee County Republican. 

1 comment:

Tom Best said...

Great post, Pat. This one deserves a huge round of applause. It seems like ancient history now when we read about a politician like Mayor Laguardia who had a heart, really cared about people and hang the consequences. I just love that story about him and the elderly woman who had stolen that loaf of bread to feed her starving family. I hate to think what would have happened to her if that had occured nowadays.