In this week’s cover story, TIME’s David Von Drehle interviews Mayor Rahm Emanuel about the enduring problems facing Chicago – school reform, gun violence, unemployment and budget shortfalls. Von Drehle also outlines how Emanuel’s aggressive efforts – often at odds with his Democratic base – could prove to be a proxy for a broader fight nationwide over the identity of the Democratic Party.
Mark Seliger photographed Rahm Emanuel for TIME on the L train platform in Chicago for the cover.
Emanuel talks to TIME about clashes with the teachers’ union and other powerful labor groups: “It’s not a strategy the old Rahm would have advised a candidate to follow.” He has risked political backlash, he says, because he “will not shortchange our students.”
On the Benghazi, IRS and Justice Department scandals: “Congress has a job to do with oversight. But if your oversight becomes overly political, the public gets turned off. Not that this White House needs saving, but that’s where the Republicans are saving the White House.”
On the gridlock in Washington: “I’m done with that. I worked eight years in the White House for two great Presidents. They talk about things they want to do—I’m doing it. This is the happiest I’ve ever been in public life. I’ve always wanted to be mayor.”
TIME Managing Editor Rick Stengel: “I don’t know whether everything Mayor Rahm Emanuel is doing in Chicago makes sense, but I do know he doesn’t mind making enemies, which is a healthy sign for a mayor…. Emanuel brought a little of Chicago to Washington—that’s the bare-knuckled style—and he has brought some of his Washington policymaking expertise to his hometown. But one difference, according to Emanuel, is that while Presidents talk about what they want to do, ‘I’m doing it.'”