'Giddy Up, Chicago': Mayor Lightfoot Makes Utterly Odd Move, Deploys 'Census Cowboy' to Streets


Mayor of a major American city isn’t really the safety school of career goals, so I imagine Democratic Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot probably dreamt about achieving her office for quite some time.

The pomp, the power, the policy victories — all of those scenarios likely went through her mind like sugarplums dancing in the head of an assistant U.S. attorney, as she provided oversight with the Chicago police, when she spent time on the Chicago Police Board, and then during her time in private practice. If she made the right connections, kept her nose to the grindstone and looked out for the right opportunities, the chance might present itself.

I imagine, in the course of those rare moments of idle daydreaming, she never pictured headlines about the president calling violence in her city “worse than Afghanistan.”

Nor, in fact, was he entirely wrong. Nor, in fact, did the mayor picture a weekend in which 64 people were shot, 11 fatally. Nor did she picture it would come after a weekend in which 87 people were shot. Nor did she picture that coming after a weekend where 63 people were shot. Nor did she picture it coming not long after a two-week period where seven children were shot dead. Nor did she picture it happening in a year where 373 people had been killed as of Saturday.

If this were the hero’s journey, Lightfoot had reached the point of the ordeal. Thankfully, after the ordeal comes the reward, where things begin to turn around for the hero.

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And Lightfoot had a turnaround all lined up up: A visit from the “Census Cowboy.”

That’s not a euphemism. According to WMAQ-TV, on Monday, Chicago’s mayor introduced the Census Cowboy, a mascot designed to raise the city’s census response rate from 55 percent.

But first, the introduction.

“When I was a kid, I loved the ‘Batman’ TV show,” Lightfoot told a group of reporters. “And when the city of Gotham had a real difficult challenge, one of the things that the mayor there did is he called out and he sent out the distress signal to Batman.

“So, we are doing something similar for the census. And I’m happy to report,” Lightfoot said, reaching under the lectern and pulling out a green cowboy hat, “I’m calling out the Census Cowboy.”

By the way: The people who respond to the census are necessarily adults. I’d just like to point that out.

On cue, the Census Cowboy rode in, carrying a census flag, wearing a cowboy hat (not green) and trotting on over to the sound of “Old Town Road” by Lil Nas X being played, it sounded like, through a $20 Target jukebox.

“So, if you see the Census Cowboy coming to your neighborhood, that’s not a good thing,” Lightfoot said.

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Do you believe introducing the "Census Cowboy" was a good idea?

“That means you got to step up and do your part and make sure that you fill out the census.

“He’s going to the 10 communities across Chicago that have the lowest census response rate. And it’s time to giddy-up. Let’s do this, Chicago.”

Does anyone remember when “Sharknado” first came out and absolutely no one knew how so-bad-it’s-good it was? I had one of those moments in miniature watching this news conference.

Another matter: If reporters are socially distancing, can you hear them gasping for air because they’re laughing so hard?

Levity aside, Chicago has serious census issues, with an average 55 percent response rate as opposed to 62 percent nationwide. In a newsletter, 42nd Ward Alderman Brendan Reilly said the city stood to gain roughly $1,400 for each additional person counted in Chicago on the census.

The Census Cowboy isn’t the only initiative to fix this; the ward that delivers the best results in the next ten days gets a “ward-wide ice cream event.”

If only the story ended there. Alas, it seems the Census Cowboy is neither the hero Chicago needs nor deserves:

WARNING: The following video contains vulgar language that some viewers will find offensive.

Keep being Chicago, Chicago.

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C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014.
C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014. Aside from politics, he enjoys spending time with his wife, literature (especially British comic novels and modern Japanese lit), indie rock, coffee, Formula One and football (of both American and world varieties).
Morristown, New Jersey
Catholic University of America
Languages Spoken
English, Spanish
Topics of Expertise
American Politics, World Politics, Culture