Gapers Block has ceased publication.

Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
 Thank you for your readership and contributions. 


Sunday, April 14

Gapers Block

Gapers Block on Facebook Gapers Block on Flickr Gapers Block on Twitter The Gapers Block Tumblr

The Mechanics
« Garrard McClendon Live Talking About Double Dipping Preckwinkle's First Ad »

IL-GOV Thu Jan 14 2010

The Always Entertaining Dan Proft

As I've said before, I like Dan Proft. He's entertaining and sincere, even if he is essentially a bundle of right-wing talking points and crackpot ideology. When he quoted Steve Martin's line from The Jerk: "I, too, was born a poor, black child", it was to mock his opponents for phony, exaggerated "I know poor people too" tales. The thing about Steve Martin's line was that in that movie he was born to hardship in a black family. He wasn't being insincere to score points. Proft just made the typical lazy connection between being black and living a hard scrabble life: (go to exactly 4'20". Dude.)

But Proft scores points with me for sending this out in an email to his email list:

As you may have figured out, I was in fact not born a poor, black child. The point of my comment was to highlight the inanity of these faux Horatio Alger stories my opponents tell of how they grew up as penniless street urchins in one-horse towns and beat the odds to become somebody. It is patronizing pabulum.

Every single one of us, me included, has lived a charmed life.

Even more to the point, the future of our party and our state will turn on the policy choices we make not the socioeconomic backgrounds of the policy-makers.

Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter had very similar socioeconomic backgrounds and much different policy ideas; the same is true of Jay Rockefeller and Steve Forbes on the other end of the spectrum.

Proft is absolutely right. Friedrich Engels was a rich kid. Mussolini was working class. Ideas and plans are what matter. Identity and narrative politics have infested our civic discourse to the point that people often vote with or against somebody even if they agree with them on practically all policy matters just because of how they make them "feel". You can say it's just human nature, but it is intensified by how the media covers politics.

What Proft wouldn't be ready to concede of course is that this has benefited conservatives more than the Left since the era of Nixon. The white working class and the black and Latino working class have shared interests that have been set against each other by generations of conservative demagogues--the kind of political language that associates poverty with being "a minority", when the typical poor person in America is a white woman. And of course, no single person has benefited more greatly from identity politics than poor crucified Sarah Palin.

Proft's refusal to join the play-pretend game is really refreshing. Too bad it's in service of a play-pretend ideology that is as thoroughly discredited as any comprehensive utopian jibberish. Ironically, it is Dan' belief in the magical, mystical power of the Free Market Unicorn that grounds his political rhetoric so firmly in reality.

(And, by the way, Dan still has not answered my question.)

GB store
GB store


Parents Still Steaming, but About More Than Just Boilers

By Phil Huckelberry / 2 Comments

It's now been 11 days since the carbon monoxide leak which sent over 80 Prussing Elementary School students and staff to the hospital. While officials from Chicago Public Schools have partially answered some questions, and CPS CEO Forrest Claypool has informed that he will be visiting the school to field more questions on Nov. 16, many parents remain irate at the CPS response to date. More...


Substance, Not Style, the Source of Rahm's Woes

By Ramsin Canon / 2 Comments

It's not surprising that some of Mayor Emanuel's sympathizers and supporters are confusing people's substantive disputes with the mayor as the effect of poor marketing on his part. It's exactly this insular worldview that has gotten the mayor in hot... More...

Special Series

Classroom Mechanics Oral History Project
GB store

About Mechanics

Mechanics is the politics section of Gapers Block, reflecting the diversity of viewpoints and beliefs of Chicagoans and Illinoisans. More...
Please see our submission guidelines.

Editor: Mike Ewing,
Mechanics staff inbox:



 Subscribe in a reader.

GB store

GB Store

GB Buttons $1.50

GB T-Shirt $12

I ✶ Chi T-Shirts $15