On the morning after a political earthquake, Mayor Rahm Emanuel gave shell-shocked Chicagoans who “went to bed despondent” and woke up the same way a pep talk not to overreact to Donald Trump’s stunning upset.
Instead of talking about Trump, Emanuel changed the subject to victories by a rainbow coalition of Democrats: Tammy Duckworth for the U.S. Senate; City Clerk Susana Mendoza in the race for state comptroller: Raja Krishnamoorthi in the 8th Congressional District and Kim Foxx for state’s attorney.
According the the mayor, all of those victories show that the diverse and tolerant America that served as a magnet for his immigrant grandfather and for the dozens of new Americans to whom Emanuel administered the citizenship oath on election day is alive and well and will remain so, even under President Donald Trump.
“Something happened last night. … A lot of people in the city of Chicago woke up despondent, went to sleep that way wondering whether this country still has them, their future and their children’s future at heart,” the mayor told aldermen from the rostrum at a City Council meeting.
“I want to speak to that despondency because I saw the first Hispanic woman elected statewide in Illinois on her own who is the daughter of an immigrant. And I saw in her mother’s eyes the pride and the reward for all of the sacrifice and struggle that she made in coming to America — not just a place, but a set of ideas and a set of values and that was rewarded.
The same values were on display in the victories by Duckworth, Foxx and Raja, the mayor said.
“So while we woke up — I don’t think it comes as a surprise — not with the results we wanted to see,” the nation’s values have not changed, the mayor said.
“Although this election obviously did not turn out [the way he wanted], I believe that this Republican Congress, Republican Senate and the president have an obligation to work with a city and with cities across the United States. … The challenge I issue is to the new administration and the new Republican Congress: This America has a future, too because it’s true to the values of who we are. … And they still hold true and they still are a shiny, bright beacon in moments for all of us in moments of darkness.”
At a news conference after Wednesday’s City Council meeting, Emanuel was asked about the deep-seated anxieties of the children of immigrants known as “Dreamers” for the Dream Act that granted them asylum.
He talked about the City Colleges Star Scholarship that benefits immigrant students and about the $1 million he is putting into the creation of a municipal ID so those “On their way to citizenship” have the “benefits to participate” instead of living “in the shadows.”
“To those families, you are welcomed here in the city of Chicago. Your dreams for your children count. Your struggles to give your children a chance at the American dream are heard in this city,” the mayor said.
“I would say to DAKA, to Dreamers, to those that live on the periphery: One, do not lose hope because America embraces you. Two, the city of Chicago at many, many different levels [welcomes you]. … I know your sense of fear. I would tell you there’s more hope in embracing a view than you are fearful [of] at this very moment, post an election.”