Welcome to therapy, good citizen of Chicago. Have a seat. What brings you in today?
You’re anxious? Confused? Immobilized by uncertainty and dread?
I understand. I can’t figure out who to vote for either. I mean, every time I think I’ve decided who should be the next mayor of Chicago, I’ll tell a friend — who then tells me I’m crazy.
Hey, can I bum a cigarette? Your anxiety is contagious.
Anyway, enough about me. Today is all about you, your hopes and dreams and fears for our beautiful, troubled city, your search for a mayor you can love. Tell me about your symptoms.
You’re arguing constantly with your friends over who to vote for?
Oh, man, can I relate. I’m all for listening to other people, but you can’t listen to every person who calls you stupid or evil for even thinking about voting for whomever you’re thinking of voting for.
And a little secret between you and me? Most of your friends are as confused as you are.
How do I know? Because these mopes are keeping my therapy practice in business. They’re the stressed-out folks who can’t decide. The ones, like you, who keep changing their minds.
One day they think the election is all about social justice. The next they think it’s all about pension debt. The next they think it’s all about bike paths. And lots of ’em are driven to the brink of madness by the fact that it’s about all of it.
All of it! Seriously, what deranged person even wants that job? Sorry, didn’t mean to flick my ash on you.
Anyway, these Chicagoans come in here all “whine, whine, whine, I don’t know who to vote for, scandal this and Ed Burke that, and not another Daley, and the media stink, and the Chicago Way and how can I trust any of them and blah blah blah.” If uncertainty doesn’t kill ’em, cynicism will.
But enough of my yakking. Tell me more about your symptoms.
You’re yelling at TV ads for the candidates? Very common.
You’re getting sentimental about Rahm, even though you dissed him for the past eight years? Hoo boy.
You change your mind about who to vote for each time you read the news? At least you read the news. Some of my patients tell me they can’t decide who to vote for but admit they’ve never read a news story about any of them. One of them told me she was tempted to vote for “Tori” but wasn’t sure she could trust “Tori.”
You do know there’s a Toni and a Lori but no Tori, right?
Don’t get defensive. You’re a news nerd, great. You’re even trying to understand TIFs. No wonder you’re anxious.
Now let’s get to the diagnostic test.
Close your eyes. Imagine a large body of warm water. You’re floating, floating, free of care. With your mind clear and calm, we’re going to play a game of association. I’ll say a name and you tell me the first word — or two — that comes to mind. I’ll then repeat your word to you. Ready?
Toni? Soda tax.
Mendoza? Aldermanic cronies.
Yoo-hoo, did you hear me? Chico. Gery Chico? Hello! Are you asleep? OK, we’ll stop there. I’m ready to confirm your diagnosis.
You, good citizen of Chicago, are suffering from a common affliction: Mayoral Anxiety Disorder. Otherwise known as MAD.
MAD is a disability characterized by the delusion that there is such a thing as the perfect candidate, which leads to chronic flip-flopping on who to vote for.
Whom to vote for, whatever. It’s time to get rid of that archaic word, but let’s stay focused.
I understand that you want someone you can love unconditionally, who inspires and excites you. We all do. But let me tell you: Love alone is not enough. If love alone were enough, we’d elect Sister Jean.
Hey, that’s not a bad idea. But where was I?
Love. Right. We don’t have to love our mayor, as long as the mayor cares about the city and has the skills to run a place as complicated as some countries. Love is overrated and perfection doesn’t exist.
So take three deep breaths and repeat after me: There are some decent candidates in the race even if none of them is perfect.
One more time.
Again, slowly and sincerely.
And now our time is up. Sorry, no, you can’t come back. I’m fully booked until Tuesday, Feb. 26.
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