Tom Geoghegan for Congress

by Henry Farrell on January 5, 2009

Many CT readers will be familiar with the work of Tom Geoghegan. We’ve often talked about his book, _Which Side Are You On_ which is a simply wonderful piece of political writing – brilliant, complicated, beautifully written, arguing with itself the whole way through. Now, he’s running for the Democratic nomination in Rahm Emanuel’s old district. I’m usually a bit chary when intellectuals run for office – they (we1) are usually not very good at all at dealing with the day-to-day grind and compromise of politics. But Geoghegan, as “James Fallows says”: is different.

The remarkable thing is that in Geoghegan’s case writing has been a sideline. Day by day for several decades he has been a lawyer in a small Chicago law firm representing steel workers, truckers, nurses, and other employees whose travails are the reality covered by abstractions like “the polarization of America” and “the disappearing middle class.” Geoghegan’s skills as a writer and an intellectual are assets but in themselves might not recommend him for a Congressional job. His consistent and canny record of organizing, representing, and defending people who are the natural Democratic (and American) base is the relevant point. The people of Chicago would have to look elsewhere for Blago-style ethics entertainment. Tom Geoghegan is honest and almost ascetic. Because it’s an important part of his makeup, I mention too that he is a serious, Jesuit-trained Catholic.

This is a purely personal endorsement; as a general rule, we don’t take collective positions on issues or people at CT. But I can’t imagine anyone more likely to contribute more to American political life than Geoghegan. I’ve contributed money to his campaign – if you want to do so too, you can do it easily “here”: There’s a Facebook group “here”: (with a good bio attached).

1 In case it’s not clear, the term ‘intellectual’ here doesn’t refer either positively or negatively to intellectual worth, but to social position.



LizardBreath 01.05.09 at 4:20 pm

Woohoo! This is great — Geoghegan’s an amazing writer and thinker.


lemuel pitkin 01.05.09 at 4:41 pm

This is wonderful news — Geoghegan is exactly the sort of person we need running for office.


lemuel pitkin 01.05.09 at 5:08 pm

Also, I can’t help mentioning — chapter 12 of Geoghegan’s Secret Lives of Citizens begins with a little anecdote about “a man looking at old census records of Chicago.” That man was me.


Katherine 01.05.09 at 7:26 pm

I don’t know this man and I’m not an American so can’t vote for Congress, but the fact that it is an important of someone’s makeup that they are “a serious, Jesuit-trained Catholic” don’t particularly seem like a plus point to me.


Maria 01.05.09 at 8:02 pm

Well if it’s any consolation to you, Katherine, Pope Ratzinger is Dead Set Against the J’s and their proteges as well.


Barry 01.05.09 at 8:18 pm

Katherine, I’d say “a serious, Jesuit-trained Catholic” + ‘Labor Lawyer’ (and by that I don’t mean anti-labor lawyer) is a definite good combination.


Cannoneo 01.06.09 at 1:44 am

Only if he pronounces his last name correctly.


engels 01.06.09 at 2:09 am

arguing with itself the whole way through

I do hope he knocks it off before he takes office. Politics seems complicated enough when people can’t agree with other, let alone themselves.


engels 01.06.09 at 2:16 am

(NB. That was a joke. Sounds like a great thing.)


Cannoneo 01.06.09 at 3:32 am

n.b., it’s “Garabedian” or “Garofalo,” depending on what part of Ireland.


bad Jim 01.06.09 at 6:23 am

So, he’s not Ashanti Irish?


Maria 01.06.09 at 7:12 pm

Update: Geoghegan is on Kos now answering questions.

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