Welcome back, your dreams were your ticket out/
Welcome back, to that same old place that you laughed about/
Well, the names have all changed since you hung around/
But those dreams have remained, and they’ve turned around.
The bubble-gum lyrics come from the John Sebastian theme song of the 1970s hit TV show, “Welcome Back, Kotter.”
They serenade a teacher who returns to his old high school.
Replace “Kotter” with “President Trump” and it’s a different, not-so-sweet song of Donald J. Trump’s long-overdue return to Chicago.
Welcome back, Mr. President!
Air Force One lands Monday morning at O’Hare Airport for Trump’s first visit to Chicago as president. He’s scheduled to headline a luncheon fundraiser at Trump Tower downtown, then speak at the annual conference of the International Association of Chiefs of Police.
Chicago has not been a go-to stop for Trump.
In March 2016, then-candidate Trump was virtually run out of Chi-Town in the wake of a highly touted campaign event.
Trump was set to appear before 10,000-strong at a “Make America Great Again” rally at the UIC Pavilion on the near West Side.
Inside, the stadium was packed with rowdy masses of supporters inside. Uber-angry masses of protestors marched outside to decry what they viewed as a racist, xenophobic and misogynist campaign.
Shortly before Trump’s scheduled appearance, his campaign cancelled, citing safety concerns.
Welcome back, Mr. President, your dreams were your ticket out.
You once came to Chicago to build Trump Tower, the glitzy monument to your colossal ego on the Chicago River. Back then, you were selling condos and cashing in. Chicago was all good.
Back then, the presidency was just a sugar plum dream dancing in your head.
“I love Chicago. I have big investments in Chicago, and I think it’s a great city,” you once told Fox News.
After pulling political strings and milking us for the bucks, you left us behind to run for the White House.
Welcome back, to that same old place that you laughed about. You won office by demonizing our minority-majority city, a welcoming city. You got there by bamboozling a disaffected, angry base who thought we were the enemy. You assured them you would salve their misplaced grievances.
In speeches and Twitter rants, you attacked our struggles with violent crime. You ridiculed our Sanctuary City status. Chicago was “a total disaster” you said. You suggested that “Afghanistan is safer than Chicago.”
Yes, we have challenges. And yes, you have the power to help. But you have offered little from your administration, instead dismissing Chicago as an undeserving city full of murderous criminals and hapless victims.
Well, the names have all changed since you hung around.
Now, Chicago has elected a queer black woman mayor, and she’s not taking your stuff. We have our own billionaire, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker, in our corner. Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson is the crime fighter in charge. He’s making progress. Johnson is hosting the police chief’s conference, but is skipping your speech.
“I can’t in good conscience stand by while racial insults and hatred are cast from the Oval Office, or Chicago is held hostage because of our views on New Americans,” Johnson said in a statement.
And our dreams have remained … .
Tens of thousands of protesters are expected to converge on Trump Tower Monday morning to welcome you.
Their message: Your hateful rhetoric and cynical race baiting won’t kill their dreams for a better Chicago.
They know America — and Chicago — are already great.
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