Capitolo 31 La politica da noi

Just voted with my son Richard for a second general election. Voting with my children is a definite “to do” on my Bucket List. I look forward to voting in the future with Alex (in Boise, Idaho) and Rachel, who turns 18 on May 19. I envision Richard’s grandfathers smiling down from heaven as we vote side by side in Alpine, CA. As long as they can’t see who Richard is voting for.

Voting always makes me think of my dad. He introduced me to politics during the 1960 presidential election featuring Nixon and Kennedy. Carmie Sacco was a life-long Republican who joined the Illinois Young Republicans in 1948. His fellow young Republicans? Future Governor Dick Ogilvie and Secretary of State Bill Scott. Both were friends of the family and were my heroes. I still have letters from Gov. Ogilvie that he wrote my dad. Both politicians died horrible political deaths. Dick Ogilvie died a one-term governor and Bill Scott went to jail.

I voted Republican until the end of the Reagan administration but have voted Democrat ever since.

Voting in Chicago is, how shall I say, exciting. The city itself has been traditionally democratic for almost a century. I lived my first 17 years with Mayor Dailey as our supreme leader. It was Mayor Dailey who helped rig the election for Kennedy. In Chicago, the dead vote and the living vote multiple times. That’s why I didn’t get too pissed off when Bush and his Republican Supreme Court majority stole the election from Al Gore. What pisses off my father, watching from his heavenly perch, is seeing his name used again and again to re-elect Democrats.

Chicago works via a patronage system closely linked to ancient Rome and, in some ways, to the old country. Despite Carmie Sacco’s political bents, he was good friends with Ward Committeeman, Elmer (Irish) Filippini. Irish was 100% Italian American so I can’t explain why Irish was his nickname. Irish helped “eliminate” my parking tickets and several activities my dad neglected to share with me. Irish always wore expensive three-piece suits, his fat fingers adorned with gaudy rings. No one kissed his ring or rings but he reminds me of the “barone” in early 1900 Calabria. And Irish Filippini fulfilled many of the same roles protecting his ward–for a price.

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About growingupcalabrese

Professor of French and Italian at San Diego State University
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