Anyone can stand at a podium and accept adulation. Real leadership involves having the humility to remain standing upright while accepting blame when you’ve failed the people you’re responsible for instead of conveniently leaning on a readily available crutch.
But then, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot never was much of a leader.
Lightfoot lost her re-election bid this week, receiving just a putrid 16.4% of the vote, finishing behind former head of Chicago Public Schools Paul Vallas and Cook County Commissioner Brandon Johnson.
Lightfoot had her crutch before the results were in.
“I am a black woman — let’s not forget,” she told The New Yorker in a piece published three days before the election, providing reasoning for her inevitable defeat. “Certain folks, frankly, don’t support us in leadership roles.”
Local media lambasted her loss, with the Chicago Tribune declaring it a “political embarrassment” that came as crime within the city “skyrocketed” during her reign — with a 2022 homicide rate nearly 40% higher than in 2019 and an astronomical 800 murders recorded in 2021, the most in 25 years.
Lori Lightfoot spent four years hobbling around Chicago on an identity crutch because it was the only thing she could proudly stand on.
Lightfoot will proclaim her loss is due to voters translating her identity as a black gay woman into an unignorable leadership disability, but she had no problems walking independently when she won election in 2019 with nearly 74% of the vote.
Chicagoans are only bigots when she loses, apparently.
Lightfoot’s tenure as mayor can be summed up in one phrase, the famous line from football player Terrell Owens: “I love me some me.”
She was elected to serve the people with the promise of ensuring the safety of all Chicagoans by lowering crime. But in a short period of time, we saw her priority was more about satisfying her ego than her constituents.
During the 2020 protests and riots, when regular people called for her administration to do something to protect their lives and livelihoods from criminals and agitators, Lightfoot prioritized her safety over theirs.
She even had the gall to state “I have a right to make sure that my home is secure” as she banned protesters from her street with enforcement by 70 police officers: Safety for me but not for thee.
Lightfoot’s identity crutch was manufactured by progressivism, and she had no problem beating people over the head with it whenever they scrutinized her effectiveness.
When the local media started questioning her governing actions and outcomes, she used her crutch to deflect criticisms back onto the media and their supposed lack of diversity.
“I have been struck since my first day on the campaign trail back in 2018 by the overwhelming whiteness and maleness of Chicago media outlets, editorial boards, the political press corps, and yes, the City Hall press corps specifically,” Lightfoot stated.
When asked back in 2021 how much of the criticisms have to do with the fact she’s a black woman, without hesitation Lightfoot stated, “about 99%.” But the truth is that the criticisms stem from her behaving like the 1%.
While she’s able to move about the city safely being protected by police details, her solution for the 99% is to not carry cash at all to avoid being robbed.
She’ll ride her police-escorted chariot from her ivory tower to be the center attraction of a parade for the people but what happens to them after she dances and leaves is not her concern.
People who constantly reference their identity and infer hatred against their identity when people attempt to hold them accountable do this to cover up how mediocre of a talent they really are.
I’ve never met someone who exudes leadership attributes find ways to scapegoat even when they easily could. They use those moments of failure as lessons to learn from so they don’t continue to unnecessarily repeat them — because real leaders have the humility to understand they’re imperfect and you can’t grow as an individual if you recognize your fallibility.
Lightfoot did everything possible to point the finger at anyone who dared to challenge her when she failed to accomplish what she promised the public and usually that finger was the middle one.
Lightfoot’s demise is her own doing, and Chicagoans used their voting power to make the self-centered mayor disappear from office like Winona Ryder in “Beetlejuice”: Lightfoot. Lightfoot. Lightfoot.
Adam B. Coleman is the author of “Black Victim to Black Victor” and founder of Wrong Speak Publishing. Follow him on Substack: adambcoleman.substack.com.