What Ever Will Iraqi Voters Think of us?


Los Angeles had a mayoral primary election Tuesday, resulting in a runoff repeat of the 2001 race: Bland career civic politician Jim "Jinky" Hahn, now the mayor; versus rock-starish lefty bromide-dispenser Antonio Villaraigosa, who again seeks to be the city's first Latino mayor since back when they spoke Spanish at City Hall. There really are no national or libertarian implications I can think of, beyond the fact that both candidates, like the vast majority of L.A. politicians, think that government is the best way to solve any problem you might have except the ones you care about.

But this L.A. Daily News woe-is-our-democracy thumbsucker, bemoaning the fact that only 28 percent of registered voters bothered to show up to the polls, has too many laff lines to keep to myself. Such as: "Voters were largely uninspired to go to the polls despite a smorgasbord of five legitimate candidates." A smorgasbord of legitimacy! The best/worst stuff comes from Tom Hollihan, associate dean of USC's Annenberg School for Communication, which is a well-funded old-folks-home for former Mondale staffers and retired L.A. Timesmen, and which used to cut me checks now and then.

"It's a real tragedy citizens don't get engaged. We proclaim we're building democracy in the Middle East and show so little regard for it here." […]

As more voters stay away from the polls, they might also start to disengage from other civic responsibilities, from willing participation on juries to respect for civic institutions.

"It's a warning sign of danger for society at large. If people don't participate in organized politics, how does that translate into other behaviors in civil society?"

Yeah, like exercising personal freedom and stuff without wasting time on buzz-harshing local politicos! Icky! The article goes on to mention without comment that the highest recent turnout for a mayoral election here was the whopping 66.2 percent of registered Angelenos who voted in 1969. What it neglects to add is that '69 was a race-riot of a race, with white Mayor Mad Sam Yorty calling the black contender Tom Bradley a pro-Black Panther pinko, and warning ominously against the "black bloc" influencing elections. While I fully expect the despicable Hahn to continue trying to conflate the image of Villaraigosa with a crack-smoking gangbanger, and for Antonio to continue saying little about the public policy issues caused by mass immigration while croaking We-Are-the-World paeans to the American Dream, I have faith that we will likely be spared from the kind of crises and rancid rhetorical hellbroth that produces high voter turnout the world over. (Pre-emptive Lonewacko link about Villaraigosa's MEChista past here.)