Our trainer, a genuinely progressive woman, acknowledged that we would probably be uncomfortable at first about hitting up everyone we knew for money, but that it would get easier as we went along.

I didn’t want it to get easier as we went along.

I thought back to the 1980’s during the heady days of the Harold Washington movement. I thought of the reform minded firebrands who went into politics then. Now some of those people are just cogs in a political system so repulsive that most Chicago voters stayed away from the polls this year in disgust.

The pull of Big Money can be hard to resist,  day in and day out for years on end. A thousand small compromises and you end up like Rep. Danny Davis [D-IL7], who endorsed Willie Wilson for mayor. Wilson is allied with Republican Governor Bruce Rauner whose political model is the Eurozone that is trying to strangle the Greeks into accepting abject poverty as their lot in life.

Danny wasn’t always like that. Believe me.

Oh, and did I mention that millionaire Democrat Rahm Emanuel is closely allied with millionaire Republican Bruce Rauner?

That doesn’t mean that Big Money always wins an election. We have a Mayor and a number of City Council members who are now being reminded of that.

Campaign workers getting ready to canvass on election day.

But those of us dedicated to working class liberation have to remember that when we win an election, we are entering enemy territory and our goal is not to fix a system that is badly broken, but to replace it with something better. That takes a broad-based  massive social movement that operates from within as well as outside of the electoral system.Personally, I’m a socialist. From my experience in the this election,  I can tell you that support for socialist ideas is growing in the Chicago area, among a small minority of people to be sure, but growing.

It’s not because socialists have suddenly become more persuasive, but because capitalism in the State of Illinois is in deep crisis and people feel it, painfully, day in and day out.

The pain is localized in the lives of individuals but the source is systemic.

That is our challenge.

Black Panther leader Fred Hampton

Outside of a West Side campaign meeting, the image of assassinated Black Panther leader
Fred Hampton reminds us that there are alternatives to the present system.