What Ever Will Iraqi Voters Think of us?

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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.)

NEXT: The Circle of Trust

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  1. Matt,
    Pretty funny stuff. I really like this:

    “rancid rhetorical hellbroth”

    Yeah!

  2. Thanks for the link, and here’s two more. Read the last quote here, then go take a look at the second picture here.

    At my link in this post, I link to this post from Mickey Kaus which, if nothing else, you deserve to take a look at.

  3. As more voters stay away from the polls, they might also start to disengage from other civic responsibilities

    And yet the crime rate is going down, despite all the new crimes ‘n’ shit.

    All I know is I became a much more tolerant person after I stopped going to church.

  4. The Daily News isn’t pissed about low turnout in general. They’re pissed about low turnout for their candidate, former Assembly Speaker Bob Hertzberg (who finished less than 6,000 votes behind Hahn for the second slot in the runoff). Take the exact same turnout with a swing of 3,000 Hahn votes over to Hertzberg, and their headline would have been “Democracy Wins!” Daily News editors despise Hahn because he blocked San Fernando Valley secession — which would have directly benefited the newspaper by making it the paper of record in the new city.

  5. Matt: I know you don’t say a word about Hertzberg here. Even if you think that both Hahn and Villaraigosa are so bad that Los Angeles voters should not be blamed for the reluctance to vote for either of them, shouldn’t you at least explain why you think the other candidates–at least the major ones, and Hertzberg did almost get in the runoff–are equally bad?

  6. David T — Um, why? I actually don’t despise Villaraigosa (yet!), though I don’t expect much good from him if he wins (and I say that as an enthusiastic supporter in 2001). I was just having fun with the News’ mountaintop declaration that the slate was a “smorgasbord of five legitimate candidates,” which strikes me as a rather random judgment.

    I voted for Hertzberg, mostly on the idea that he was kinda funny, and seemed to be the least lefty of the competitive candidates. Nothing against lefties, mind you, it’s just that that’s *all* we’ve got in the City Council, which makes for pretty dreary policy-making. I will enthusiastically vote against Hahn in the runoff, despite Lonewacko’s best efforts.

  7. The important thing is the right to vote, not the vote.

    Consider a common analogy. You own 100 shares of X, and every year you’re mailed a proxy card to vote your shares on matters that come up at the annual stockholders’ meeting. You and everybody else throw it away. Who cares, and it won’t affect anything your way anyhow.

    One day Hostile LTD sends you mail offering to buy your shares for twice what they’re trading for. Immediately X management mails that under NO circumstances should you sell to Hostile because the company is worth much more than that. Everybody of course sells to Hostile, and Hostile votes your shares, and throws out the old management.

    What Hostile bought is the thing of value, your right to vote. You profited from that even though you never exercised the right. The valuable thing is the right to vote.

    You’d see great turnout if Hillary is the next D Presidential candidate, by the way. This is not a great increase in civic responsibility, however.

  8. Matt:

    Is there anything AV could do now or (God help us) as L.A. mayor that would cause you to drop support for him? No jokes please, and I’m sure you can imagine what those of us who oppose AV think what might happen.

    Let me give you a minor example. As you’re no doubt aware from your Bandar article, a Saudi prince has hundreds of thousands or millions donating Islamic materials to U.S. libraries. Some consider those material propaganda. I don’t know if he’s donated to schools, but for the sake of argument, let’s assume he has. Can you see any dangers in a Wahabbist Saudi Prince donating potential propaganda to U.S. schools?

    Now, to bring this around to L.A. The Mexican government has donated tens of thousands of books to the LAUSD and other school districts in the U.S. They also give away free Spanish-language history books.

    Do you see a similar danger in Mexico distributing potential propaganda to U.S. schools?

    And, do you think AV would allow that program to remain the same, or do you think he’d seek to reduce it or would he seek to increase it?

    That’s just one small example, but feel free to think up many other things he could do that would cause you to drop support.

  9. Voter turnout analysis numbers are even more depressing. If you add 1.5 million eligible voters who have not registered to the 1.5 million who are registered in Los Angeles then the voter turnout number drops to 14 percent…Iraqi turnout was 67 percent despite the threat of carbombs, beheadings, etc. We should be ashamed of ourselves.

  10. Loney — Actually I’m not sure what the anti-reconquista brigade thinks about “what might happen,” which a strong reason I remain utterly unconvinced by their scare-mongering. Just what do you expect the guy to do as mayor that will truly affect American “sovereignty” (your word)? Seriously. As mayor of Los Angeles, do you really expect him to foment “irridentism”? A guy who can’t complete a sentence without talking about “the American Dream” really wants Los Angeles to be annexed by Mexico? Or is it the prospect of donated schoolbooks by the Mexican government that has you in fever sweats? This is no “joke” — I’m just trying to figure out what you think the guy’s gonna do. Linking to a 1999 Mickey Kaus, and the fact (shocker!) that he joined a campus Chicano group in his youth just does not keep me up at night, clutching to Victor Davis Hanson books.

    If those books compare to Wahabbist propaganda in any way shape or form, beyond the fact of being donated by furriners, I will eat a John & Ken hat.

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