September 14, 2022

What is remarkably refreshing about Great Britain’s royal transition is how remarkably ordinary it is and how remarkably un-woke and unpolitical it is. The Queen is dead, long live the King. That was an ancient utterance used to describe a monarchy’s and a country’s continuity and stability as well as national identity.

In a monarchical succession there is no equity, no diversity, no meritocracy, no racial equality, no gender preferences, no patriarchy or misogyny and no accountability. It’s all about royal DNA and allocation of  chromosomes, either XX or XY. The monarch’s first-born gets the throne, and that first-born’s first-born after that in a line-of succession, that theoretically lasts until the end of time – which came prematurely for the cars and kaisers. Chromosomal chronology does matter; as does patience.

Queen Elizabeth succeeded King Edward, her father, and reigned in the wholly ceremonial post for 70 years. King Charles, the first-born, succeeded his mother and was coroneted King at age 72, and then his first-born William after that, and then William’s first born George after that. Figure that the United Kingdom will have a King through the end of the century. And remember that the royals have influence but no real political power.

There have been some mutterings in the woke world about the alleged evilness of the UK, with one historian saying it begat three centuries of oppression, genocide, thievery and exploitation (his words). And never let it be said that the Brits didn’t do a bloody damn good job of it. Great nations, provided they have the wealth and military might, build empires, not goodwill.

The British Empire, from the 1600s onward, did indeed militarily subjugate foreign indigenous peoples, colonized their countries with English-speaking White people, fight wars as needed, dominated the seas, and rapaciously exploited natural available resources for the  benefit their own people. They did so in North America, northeast Africa and the Holy Lands, Southeast Asia, India, Australia and south Africa. And it was the British shipbuilders, ship owners and seafarers, responding to the demand for cheap labor by southern colonists, who established the slave trade to exploit the natural resources of Africa, upwards of a million people.

So next time some doofus whines that America was “founded on racism,” remember that America was colonized and economically exploited by the British Empire, that the colonies revolted against the oppressive Brits in 1776, and the Brits created the plantation system. So blame them, and not a bunch of slave owners, and many of the Founding Fathers, who wanted to be “free.”

But greed and ambition, not benevolence, builds empires.  But unlike the new generation of Americans who denigrate institutions, belittle traditions and rewrite (or unwrite) history, Brits are not ashamed of their past glory and view the monarchy as an institution to be cherished, celebrated and preserved.

The point of this column is to contrast the real royals over there with the fake royalty over here, meaning the political class which is forever seeking to build dynasties to perpetuate their personal wealth and power, and KEEP IT in the family for future generations. It is important to identify a political DYNASTY, which is a clan which accumulates and maintains some degree of control over their geographical fiefdom for at least 3 generations – from founder/patriarch to child/legacy to grandchild – spanning at least 50 years of dominance.

That’s far different from a FAMILY BUSINESS (FB), which is just one politician grooming their kid or kin to succeed them. A family business does no usually last more than 2 generations, usually 25 years tops. There are a load of those in Chicago and a few in Illinois. FB’s are transient, especially with the voter pool continually turning over. But dynasties are rare, with most crumbled and gone.

DALEY DYNASTY: It ain’t over yet, but the end is near. Patriarch Richard J. Daley (D) first got elected as a state rep from Bridgeport in 1936, state senator in 1938, lost for sheriff in 1946, won for county clerk in 1950, and won for mayor in 1955, 1959, 1963, 1967, 1971 and 1975, serving as mayor for 21 years until his 1976 death. But his kids carry on and his dynasty has hit age 86 -- although the last officeholder is commissioner John Daley, his son. His grandson, Patrick Daley Thompson, was elected 11th Ward alderman in 2015 but was indicted for federal bank fraud, including 5 counts of filing false income tax returns and 2 counts of false statements, and convicted in Feb. 2022.

Of course the other Daley sons certainly fulfilled their dad’s dynastic expectations: Big Dad got Richard M. elected state senator in 1972 at age 30, putting him on a track to City Hall, but then died.  On his own now, Richie ran for state’s attorney in 1980 and beat Jane Byrne-backed and slated Ed Burke (D) in the primary and then incumbent Bernard Carey (R). Byrne knew Richard wanted her job and would run for mayor in 1983 having the credibility of being the county’s prosecutor.

He did run, and so did Harold Washington (D), who finished first with 36 percent, carrying the Black wards massively. Richard got one of his 2 wishes: He wasn’t mayor but neither was Byrne, who was set to take out Daley in 1984 with Richard Brzeczek. Richard could wait his turn, which expeditiously arrived in 1989.

The “council wars” were raging, the city was racially polarized, Daley kept quiet and did his job, Washington won in 1987 – but then died later that year. Two African-Americans vied for Washington’s mantle: interim mayor Eugene Sawyer and alderman Tim Evans. Daley was perfectly positioned, being the least unacceptable White candidate who did have appeal to White liberals and some minorities. Others like Ed Vrdolyak, Jane Byrne, Aurie Pucinski or Tom Hynes had no chance.

Daley went on to convincingly beat Sawyer in the primary and Evans in the election, and then by increasing margins in 1991, 1995, 1999, 2003 and 2007. He was not flashy or charismatic, but like his dad was perceived  as competent, trustworthy and fit into Chicagoans’ comfort zone.

By 2011, after 22 years, there was definite Daley fatigue. The mayor could have strong-armed the party to back brother Bill Daley, the U.S. Commerce Secretary, but Rahm Emanuel was the consensus (and Obama) choice. When Bill did run for mayor in 2019 the family legacy was stale and he finished third. With Thompson heading for jail, the cupboard is bare.

CULLERTON DYNASTY: It is over, but it lasted an astounding 144 years. Patriarch Eddie Cullerton, also known as Foxy Ed, was a saloonkeeper who got elected a Chicago alderman in 1871 and kept that post until he died in 1920, 49 years later. P.J. (Parky) Cullerton, Foxy Ed’s nephew, lived on the far Northwest Side, had a city job, and happened to be in the new 38th Ward when it was created in 1931. He ran for committeeman (D) in 1932 and got elected alderman in 1935, a post he held until 1958, when he got elected assessor with Mayor Daley’s backing. P.J. was with Daley in the key 1955 primary.

And then came 57 years of more Cullerton kinfolk: William (Willie) Cullerton, P.J.’s brother, 1958 to 1973, when he died; then nephew Tom Cullerton, a city electrical inspector, 1973 to 1993, when he died; then in-law Tom Allen, 1993 to 2010, when he got a judgeship; and finally Tim Cullerton,  a city electrical inspector, 2011 to 2015, when he retired after the remap.

P.J. Cullerton got enmeshed in a federal probe and retired in 1974, handing off the assessor’s job (with Daley’s consent) to protégé Tom Tully (D), a 38th Ward lawyer who beat Ed Vrdolyak in the primary. But that dynastic expansion didn’t last long. Tully retired in 1978.

LAURINO DYNASTY: It, too, is over, having lasted from 1965 to 2021, expiring at age 56. Patriarch Tony Laurino was a city worker and precinct captain in Vito Marzullo’s West Side 25th Ward until the mid-1950s. He then moved to Sauganash in the 39th Ward when he got the top staff job for Alderman Philip Shapiro. His job was to attend to ward housekeeping. Daley made Shapiro a judge in 1064 and Laurino won his seat in 1965.

Laurino focused on city services rather than citywide issues and was never seriously challenged in 8 elections. He took care of his constituents AND his family: Son Bill had a city job and his dad made him state rep in 1970, at age 28. He made daughter Marge his chief aldermanic aide. But he also put his wife, step-daughter, other daughter and son-in-law on his council committee’s payroll in no-show jobs. That was his undoing. He resigned in 1994 due to failing health, at age 84, and was indicted in 1995 for his ghost-payrolling scheme. He died before his trial.
Daley appointed Marge Laurino his successor and she won 6 more terms, retiring in 2019. The last Laurino legacy is Tony’s grandson John D’Amico, who was elected state rep in 2004. He resigned in 2021 to be the Plumbers Union political director. 

GOING OUT OF BUSINESS: They’re gone. And the names of these 2-generation family businesses are Mell, Lipinski, Hynes, McAuliffe, Madigan, Berrios, Arroyo, Lyons, Stroger, Rostenkowski and Stevenson. Still operating are Stephens, Pucinski, Martwick, Osterman, Sawyer, Steele and Jackson.

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