We make history today

February 22, 2011

It’s such a ritual, this thing we do today.

We trudge out to a neighborhood school or senior center or library and stand in line, sign our names and make a choice.

Sometimes we’re thrilled about our choice, sometimes indifferent, sometimes downright disgusted.

But, in the end, we get to exercise this rare right and privilege that is voting.

Today, the headlines from halfway around the world can only remind us how very fortunate we are that when we transition from one government to another, from the old leader to the new, our way is so safe and banal.

And tonight, when the votes are finally counted, Chicago will be a little more democratic. We will know who our new mayor is or we will be one step closer toward that decision.

And no matter who comes out on top, there will be a little bit of history to celebrate: all six candidates were unthinkable as potential leaders of the city a generation ago.

And five of them will absolutely make history:

If Carol Moseley Braun or Patricia Van Pelt Watkins wins, Chicago will have its first female African-American mayor.

If Gery Chico or Miguel del Valle prevails, the city will have its first Latino mayor; a Mexican-American in Chico, a Puerto Rican in del Valle.

If Rahm Emanuel wins, Chicago will seat its first Jewish mayor.

Descendants of slaves, children of immigrants … the candidates all speak to the grandeur of our admittedly battered and often begrudging democracy.

But they’re all, each and every one, evidence of the arch of justice.