Who are the progressives in the Illinois primaries?

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Photo by Nate Burgos Chicago Women’s March 1.21.18 (CC BY-ND 2.0) Flickr

I’m getting a lot of election robocalls and they’re all from “progressives.” Sen. Dick Durbin just called to ask me to “join him in supporting progressive leaders to serve on the Democratic State Central Committee in the next election. … A vote for Cynthia Santos is a vote to fight the Trump agenda.” In case I was wondering whether Santos is a true progressive, Sen. Durbin’s call explained: “This message was paid for by friends of Michael J. Madigan.”

I want to thank Michael J. Madigan — the chair of the Illinois Democratic Party Central Committee and Speaker of the Illinois House was the last person I could imagine helping me identify the real progressives in the election. But knowing whom Madigan is promoting sure helps — after all, he should know – he is the Democratic machine’s boss of all bosses (capo di tutti capi, if I remember my Godfather grammar correctly).

Friends of Bernie Sanders are progressives too. I guess I’m not in their rolodex because Our Revolution didn’t call me to tell me to vote against the machine’s Cynthia Santos and elect their progressive challenger, Melissa Lindberg.

Maybe the point of the robocall is not that Cynthia Santos is or is not a progressive. (She’s certainly not.) It’s that the top Illinois Democrats, our senior senator and the state party boss, are worrying about my vote for the state central committee.

I’ve been living in Chicago for 40 years and never got a call about the state central committee, or even knew who was running. I suspect I’m not supposed to know what it is and what it does. Maybe the point of the robocall is this: They need my vote even for state central committee, and that’s a clue to the big picture, the war between the machine and progressive insurgents.

I try to piece together that big picture here: a page about who Chicago progressives and progressive organizations are supporting in the March primaries. In addition to some opinionated comments, you can find lots of information and links to useful journalism and resource sites. The page looks at why the midterms matter, candidates in races Chicago progressives have targeted, how to separate the real progressives from the pretenders, sources, and the background in Chicago political history —a history of structured inequality and racism.

And on that page, I pull back the final mask! I reveal why the Democratic Party is like the alien Bug in Men in Black.

More: Illinois Primaries: How do you know who the progressives are?


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