By Ryan Black

Rahm Emanuel, an avowed Third Way centrist, has been on the wrong side of the Democratic Party’s worst decisions for the past 30 years. Now, he has been nominated to be Joe Biden’s Ambassador to Japan — a country with constant military tension and pressure from the West to stand in opposition to China.

Emanuel is uniquely unfit to handle the responsibilities of navigating these tensions. His arrogant attitude and blunt demeanor are well known. More important than his attitude and demeanor though is whether someone who has been so consistently wrong on the issues deserves to be rewarded with any position at all.

From illegal wars to police violence, Rahm has been on the wrong side of history consistently. All you have to do is look at key issues over the past three decades.

Emanuel Supported the Worst of Bill Clinton’s Agenda in the 90’s

Let’s go back to when Rahm Emanuel entered the national political spotlight. He served as a top adviser to President Bill Clinton from 1993 to 1999. You won’t be surprised to learn where Emanuel stood on the big issues of the time.

He was a key leader in the push for NAFTA, the worst trade deal in U.S. history.

He supported corporate deregulation and welfare reform.

Emanuel maintained a “hard on drugs” stance and opposed Arizona and California medicinal marijuana ballot initiatives alongside Bill Clinton.

He was on Clinton’s White House staff when the “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy was implemented, forcing soldiers to remain in the closet and stay silent on their identities. Later, under Obama, he was accused of slow-walking the repeal because he was worried about “culture wars.”

Walking in step with then-Senator Biden, Emanuel was a leader in building support for one of the very worst Clinton-era policies, the 1994 Crime Bill, which instituted three-strikes policies that unfairly put countless Black Americans in jail.

Rahm Gets Rich and Wins Congressional Seat

After leaving the Clinton administration, Rahm Emanuel became an investment banker and made millions. He was later elected as the U.S. Congressional Representative for Illinois’s 5th District from 2003 until 2009.

In Congress, Emanuel supported the disastrous war in Iraq. And, in 2005, he said he would have voted for the war even if he knew there were no WMDs there.

Emanuel also voted to make the Patriot Act permanent, greatly expanding the surveillance capabilities of law enforcement.

Emanuel Pushed Obama Right

In his role as President Barack Obama’s chief of staff, it was often suspected that Emanuel cared more about politics than actual policy. Anthony Romero, Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union, said that he had grown suspicious of Emanuel because he focused “less on the policy outcomes and more on maintaining a Democratic agenda that [would] keep the party in power.”

Notably in this time, Emanuel was not supportive of what would become Obama’s signature achievement: the Affordable Care Act. In fact, he tried to convince Obama not to pursue it. “Thank God for the country he didn’t listen to me,” he said after the Supreme Court upheld Obamacare in 2012.

Emanuel even helped kill the public option. He reportedly would “make backroom deals to protect the interests of the likes of the drug industry and the for-profit hospital industry in exchange for campaign cash, even if this meant reversing campaign promises to include a public option” or other policies.

Proving his disdain for progressives and general lack of compassion, Emanuel famously called left-wing activists “fucking ret***ed” for trying to push conservative Democrats on healthcare.

Mayor Emanuel was a Disaster for Chicago

After reportedly being pushed out of the White House by Michelle Obama and Valerie Jarrett (who apparently couldn’t stand him), Rahm was elected to be Mayor of Chicago — on the back of President Obama’s tacit endorsement. As Mayor, Emanuel further bolstered his anti-progressive credentials.

His backdoor dealings continued in Chicago, where he used his power to reward loyal political donors. According to the Chicago Tribune in 2015, “The mayor regularly courts his benefactors behind closed doors.” Nearly 60 percent of his top 103 donors received “contracts, zoning changes, business permits, pension work, board appointments, regulatory help or some other tangible benefit.”

Emanuel did much worse than peddle influence and award contracts with little to no competition. He did his most undeniable material damage in Chicago’s minority neighborhoods.

A fact well-known to Chicago residents: Emanuel closed half the mental health facilities in some of the city’s most vulnerable and gun-violence plagued neighborhoods.

He was consistently adversarial toward Chicago’s public-school teachers when they were on strike and closed an unprecedented number of Chicago schools that mostly served minority students. He was also a cheerleader for school privatization

Emanuel was no friend to the unhoused and working poor either. He was a relentless gentrifier who consistently supported high-end real estate developments in Chicago at the expense of affordable housing. TIF money Chicago received that was intended to help the poor was instead spent on Navy Pier developments under his watch.

Most glaring of all the despicable acts in his career is how he helped cover up the police murder of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald.

Can we trust Emanuel to treat Black lives like they matter? How can we when we know he helped cover up that murder?

Mondair Jones tweeted recently, “As Mayor of Chicago, Rahm Emanuel helped cover up the murder of Laquan McDonald. In any other line of work, he’d never have a job again. This is a travesty. Senators of good conscience must not vote to confirm him.”

Rashida Tlaib tweeted an article that The Nation magazine published in the fall of 2018, when Emanuel was nearing the end of his eight years as Chicago’s mayor, with the summary: “The outgoing mayor’s legacy will be defined by austerity, privatization, displacement, gun violence, and police brutality.”

Today It’s Rahm Vs. The Squad

Rahm Emanuel’s anti-progressive politics continue to this day. He regularly opposes legislation supported by progressives like Bernie Sanders, AOC and Ilhan Omar.

For instance, Emanuel vehemently opposes Medicare For All, going so far as to write an op-ed in the Washington Post declaring M4A a “pipedream.”

With regard to climate, he opposes the Green New Deal with the same centrist fervor he opposes Medicare for All with. Emanuel said during the 2020 election, “two things I would say if I was advising a Biden administration, one is no Green New Deal and two is no Medicare for All.”

Is he in on the Fight for $15? No. In fact, he makes good money opposing the minimum wage increase. He has even supported plans that allow states to opt-out of the minimum wage increase, similar to plans George W. Bush ran on two decades ago. Doubling down on his anti-minimum-wage-hike stance, Emanuel recently headlined an annual conference for the National Restaurant Association, a lobbying group which led the fight against the Fight for $15.

Rahm Emanuel Must Be Rejected for Ambassador to Japan

In late August, President Biden recently nominated Rahm Emanuel to be Ambassador to Japan. To be confirmed for the position, a majority of the Senate needs to vote in favor of the nomination.

Rahm Emanuel absolutely does not deserve to be confirmed for this prestigious ambassadorship. Not only is he unqualified in any capacity, he has a three-decade track record of being on the wrong side of history, of supporting illegal wars of aggression, and of consistently working backroom deals to further his own political agenda.

Rahm Emanuel must be rejected for Ambassador to Japan. Write your Senators today to let them know and share this link today.