No, Mr. Mayor: Chicago Is Not a Hothouse of Right-Wing Extremism

May 2, 2024

It's a poor workman who blames his tools

Chicago's ideologue mayor, Brandon Johnson, has suffered several political setbacks in his first year in office. 

But rather than blaming himself, Johnson is pointing his righteous finger at “Right-wing extremists.” 

The defeat of the Bring Chicago Home (BCH) referendum in March was arguably the most significant rebuff to Johnson. Had the ordinance passed, the transaction tax on real estate sales over $1 million would have increased to address homelessness, although no specifics on how this would be achieved were ever revealed. As noted in an earlier Chicago Contrarian essay published in early April, when asked by Chicago media to explain the defeat of the referendum, Johnson blamed supporters of Donald Trump, who won only 15 percent of the Chicago vote in 2020. 

Crime was the biggest issue in the 2023 mayoral election. While Paul Vallas preferred a traditional law enforcement approach to combat crime, Johnson campaigned on battling the "root causes" of law breaking. Johnson was mayor for only six-and-a-half months of 2023, but last year's numbers were not good. While homicides were down from 2022 compared to 2023, overall violent crime increased. 

Johnson's handling of the migrant crisis — which is worth exploring — has pleased no one. 

Predictably, Chicagoans have quickly soured on the mayor.

According to a January poll, only 21 percent of registered Chicago voters approve of Johnson's performance as mayor. A more recent poll conducted by Harris has shown Johnson’s approval numbers have continued to slide, with a meager nine percent of residents rating Johnson’s performance as above average. A staggering 50 percent said it was below average.

Not surprisingly, a recall drive against Johnson has emerged. Since Chicago does not have a recall mechanism in place for municipal officials, the first step — if over 56,000 petition signatures are collected and if the effort survives inevitable legal challenges — will be to establish the electoral mechanism to recall a mayor. 

Johnson, when asked about the recall drive, dismissed it as the work of “some dude from the suburbs who is mad about the diversity and the formation which we have put forward.” The mayor also blamed “the extreme right-wing in this country” for the recall push.

As for the “dude” to whom Johnson was referring, he is Daniel Boland, a longtime Chicago resident who is not a right-winger. Boland says he votes “straight down the middle.” While still an uphill effort, Boland has a powerful ally for the Johnson recall, last week the Fraternal Order of Police endorsed the enterprise.

Johnson has dipped his cup into the "right-winger" well before. When the migrant crisis boiled over last fall — after dozens of busloads of refugees arrived in Chicago — Johnson unleashed some toxic remarks at a press conference. Ironically, the Unity Initiative to aid migrants was introduced at that presser.


“Everyone knows," Johnson declared then, “that the right-wing extremism in this country has targeted Democratically run cities, and quite frankly, they have been quite intentional about going after Democratically run cities that are led by people of color.”

Wrong. Decades ago, Chicago declared itself a sanctuary city. President Joe Biden all but placed a “Come on in” sign four years ago at the southern border.

And Chicago, with a population of nearly 3 million, is arguably better situated to handle an influx of refugees than El Paso, which has 678,000 residents, or Eagle Pass, Texas, which has a population of just 28,000.

It became worse at Johnson’s press conference:

“It is abysmal and it’s an affront for everything that is good about this country, for the extremism in this country to use people as political tools to settle political scores for something that happened 400 years ago. They're still mad that a black man is free in this country.”


And just who are these people, Mayor Johnson? Specifically, the ones who you claim are “mad that a black man is free in this country?”

Names, please.


A month before the Unity Initiative press conference, Johnson invoked Jesus Christ to admonish right-wingers.

“The real disconnect is that you have an unclean spirit that has captured the right-wing extremists in this country. And I call on them to dig deeper and lean on their faith. As Jesus said, who our neighbors really are: The one on the roadside. Those are our neighbors.”

Johnson is not a leader; he is a finger-pointer. Most families and most workplaces — have one. Rather than offering solutions — often because they are the cause of their own failures — the finger-pointers blame others. Not only are finger-pointers annoying, they invariably make situations worse.

Sorry, Brandon. To co-opt Hillary Clinton's infamous phrase, there is no “vast right-wing conspiracy” out to sabotage your city. Chicago is not “MAGA Country.”

And Mr. Mayor: There are not any right-wingers hiding under your bed.

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