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Alderman Blasts Rahm: 'Now Is Not The Time To Chill' In Fight Against Trump

By Heather Cherone | February 8, 2017 6:02am
 Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (35th) (left) blasted Mayor Rahm Emanuel for telling Democrats to
Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (35th) (left) blasted Mayor Rahm Emanuel for telling Democrats to "take a chill pill."
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LOGAN SQUARE — A Northwest Side alderman blasted Mayor Rahm Emanuel Tuesday, one day after the mayor told Democrats enraged by President Donald Trump's first 2½ weeks in office to "take a chill pill" at an event at Stanford University.

Speaking to graduate students in Stanford's school of business, Emanuel warned that it will be a long road back to power for Democrats, who do not control most state houses, the House of Representatives, the Senate or the White House.

"It ain't gonna happen in 2018," Emanuel said. "Take a chill pill, man. You gotta be in this for the long haul."

But Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (35th), said that prescription will do nothing to fix what ails the Democratic Party — and is in fact responsible for elevating Trump to the White House.

"Democrats have been taking a chill pill for 20 years," Rosa said. "That's why we have Donald Trump."

Emanuel recommended Democrats return to the strategy he followed as one of former President Bill Clinton's top aides. Emanuel encouraged the president to stake out centrist positions on issues that polarized the right and the left.

As a congressman, Emanuel engineered a Democratic takeover of the House in 2006 by recruiting moderate candidates to run in conservative districts, and cultivated campaign contributions from wealthy donors.

That put him on a path to be speaker — before former President Barack Obama tapped him in 2008 to be his first White House chief of staff. In 2011, Emanuel was elected to replace retiring Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley.

"Winning's everything," Emanuel said. "If you don't win, you can't make the public policy. I say that because it is hard for people in our party to accept that principle. Sometimes, you've just got to win, OK? Our party likes to be right, even if they lose."

That approach is woefully outdated, Rosa said.

Minorities of all kinds — blacks, Latinos, Muslims, Jews, lesbians, gay and transgender men — as well as women who have already been targeted by the president and his policies "don't have any choice" but to resist Trump's agenda, Rosa said.

"Now is not the time to chill," Rosa said. "Now is the time to fight back."

Rosa's sentiments were echoed by many progressives across social media, with many mocking Emanuel's prediction that the Democrats have no shot at taking back either the House or the Senate in 2018.

As news of Emanuel's prescription was picked up by conservative news outlets. including the Drudge Report and Breitbart, which was once led by White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon, Rosa noted that fans of the president — rather than his political opponents — were celebrating his remarks.

Elected in 2015 to represent parts of Hermosa, Logan Square, Avondale, Irving Park and Albany Park, Rosa is a member of the council's Progressive Caucus, which is frequently a thorn in the mayor's side.

Rosa said the mayor is out of step with the massive women's marches sparked by Trump's inauguration as well as the protests that erupted at airports across the nation when Trump banned immigrants and refugees from seven Muslim-majority countries. That ban has been stopped, temporarily, by a federal judge.

Rosa — who said he is hard at work to craft what he called a "down ballot political revolution" to launch in 2018 — acknowledged energized progressives could affect the outcome of Democratic primary battles nationwide.

Emanuel is expected to seek a third term as Chicago mayor in 2019. He is expected to make a final decision this summer.

Emanuel spent most of the 2016 presidential election on the sidelines, with his political standing tarnished by the way he handled the release of a dashcam video showing a police officer fatally shoot 17-year-old Laquan McDonald 16 times.

A spokesman for the mayor did not respond to a request from DNAinfo to respond to Rosa's comments Tuesday evening.