This week's column
(Great art from obeygiant.com)
An Open Letter to Mayor Nutter
By Brian Hickey
Dear Mr. Mike,
'Sup, man. I know you've been busy, but I hope you've been well, too. Been thinking about you a lot lately, particularly since last week, when the "people's" City Hall was turned into the Green Zone so you and the Guv could endorse the junior senator from New York.
Unfortunately, there were too many retread politicos and power-hungry donors sardined into the room for me to stay for your speech, but I'm sure you did a great job. OK, a good job. No offense, but I never pegged you for the dog-and-pony-show type.
And that's why I'm writing, to tell you that I am certain you've made an uncharacteristically misguided decision. We've had our differences, like legislating behavior though the smoking ban, but bygones being let be, your political oeuvre stands as far beyond reproach as this town allows. You're a thinker, and Philly needs a thinker (especially one with mad turntable skills).
Funny I should mention that word, turntable. Because what I'm about to ask you to do is turn the tables on political logic. When the junior senator's husband came to the Delaware Valley in December —just like he did with hat in hand Tuesday — you took to the Electric Factory stage and said, "Philadelphia, we need a friend in the White House." A good move, since she seemed like a lock then, and what you said was true. But what's even more true is that we need the right friend there.
Somebody who can make both Philadelphia and the country believe in itself again, as opposed to reminding it of its recently troubled past. Somebody we can proudly send out into the world as our collective face and mind, as opposed to somebody half of the people loathe. Somebody who engages in dialogue to work through problems rather than embracing the tired strategy of brawling with enemies to consolidate power.
Somebody like the junior senator from Illinois.
I can only imagine that you've also watched in awe as he's followed your lead, holding fast to his ideals while earning support from every sliver of the socioeconomic and racial spectra. And, knowing you're a thinker, you've had to ponder the wisdom of your endorsement, thinking that not only is he electable, but considering his background in Chicago, he'd be BFF with America's urban centers. Therein lies the rub.
Nobody likes to be called a flip-flopper, especially after a month in office. But if leadership is about taking calculated chances, good leadership is about taking big calculated chances. And make no mistake about it: Publicly taking your support from one candidate and bestowing it upon another represents a humongous chance.
Your candidate would ostracize you should she ultimately win, since harboring grudges seems to run in that there family. Plus, it'd leave people wondering whether you ever mean what you say. But both I and your citizenry know you better than that. In fact, most of us would celebrate your open-mindedness, considering you'd be making such a move for the betterment of us all.
So, in closing, I'd like to draw your attention to an inaugural address that called for a "rebirth of optimism and excitement." Yes, your inaugural address.
You were right: Today is the time to write a new chapter of history, but you sold yourself short. Yeah, you can make a difference in Philly just by doing what you said you would, but a broader impact that'll shake up so-called political etiquette is there for the taking. And that means international headlines lauding your willingness to adapt.
So today, by risking the capital you've already put on the table, you can help "make change a reality."
Today, by shifting your support to a man who would mend this broken country both home and abroad, you can really "begin the renaissance" of a great America. Sure, you'll be risking a lot, and that's never easy to do. But look at it this way: It's no different than the leap of faith we the voters took in lifting "unelectable" you from the basement to the second floor.
P.S. America really needs you, so let's grab a couple of cocktails ASAP and talk it out.
P.P.S. But unless I persuade you to endorse you-know-who, the tab's on you.