What’s An Endorsement Worth?

Endorsements are eagerly sought by politicians, the theory being that the right endorsements can trick a lazy or uninformed electorate into voting against its own best interests. The fact is that endorsements are bought, paid for by the same corrupt system that mocks voters who think endorsements are somehow connected to good government.

There is a lot of money in Chicago flowing from influencers to politicians, from business to politicians, from PACs to politician, from politician to politician, from politicians to PACs, and a lot of it is filtered through the mayor’s Chicago Forward organization. That means it’s untraceable. Who’s to know if the $50,000 donated by PAC A to Chicago Forward is the same as the $50,000 donated by Chicago Forward to Politician A?  Who can say for sure that contributions from commercial interests doing business with the city in certain wards don’t make their way to individual politicians up for re-election but receiving their funds from Rahm?

The taxpayers don’t know where the money comes from. But those who receive it and those who arrange all the dizzying transfers from account to account do. This is why we have such corrupt politics at every level, and why it is so hard for the ordinary citizen who gets stuck paying the bill to have any effect on any level of government.

Today one of our morning newspapers endorsed Silverstein. The paper actually said it chose its endorsements based on how well the politician in question works with the mayor. Silverstein is known both for having no ideas of her own and for doing exactly what Rahm and Ira tell her to do, so she was bound to win on that criterion.

But  the paper went on to say that she has done a “credible” job of improving constituent services (talk about damning with faint praise) and then praised her for revitalizing Devon Avenue (simply not true). Had reporters or any member of the paper’s Editorial Board taken the trouble to talk to a cross-section of residents or go for a walk on Devon such an endorsement would not have been possible.

Endorsements have no connection to good government. They do not reflect the job the politician actually does but merely the spin the politician puts on it.  No statements are checked, so politicians can say anything without fear of contradiction. Endorsements are, in effect, bought and paid for by the same people who bring us the corrupt government that flourishes by hiding its money sources and keeping citizens in the dark about its plans. Clever, repetitive PR from cash-rich political coffers–like those of Chicago Forward–trump an involved citizenry every time. And when the newspapers hand out their endorsements on such flimsy criteria, they aid and abet the very influencers they thunder against in editorials.

Just look at the 50th Ward.



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