IT’S ALMOST THAT TIME
I‘ll never forget walking down Hill Street in November 2012 to go vote in the national election, at the Church in Ocean Park, for years the place where my family cast their votes.
But this stroll down the hill was special because it was the first time my daughter had come of age to vote, and she was excited, happy and proud as we talked about it. She had shown an interest in politics from a young age and was at that time a big fan of the Obamas, had thrilled to watch the returns come in for the previous election and the joyous celebration by the huge crowd in Grant Park in Chicago, the jubilation for so many that a black man could finally be elected President of the United States. And now, she got to cast her vote for his second term. To feel a part of it all.
I have always cherished our right and responsibility to vote, and the ritual of showing up on voting day at our local polling place, manned by our volunteering neighbors, to punch and hand in that paper ballot. I could look around the room and see many friends and acquaintances. As a lifelong student of history and world affairs, I took pride in this great privilege that so many fought and died for. That so many, in other parts of the world, could only dream of.
The most precious of all our rights as Americans, because all else flows from that. I served in the Army during the Vietnam War, as did my father during WWII, and in the Navy when he was a teen. I am personally affronted by the ignorance or insensitivity of anyone who disparages that hard-won license. I had friends who died, and not in a pretty way, for the principle of our right to vote. So did my father.
And now, a day I never could have imagined would come, when we have someone in the White House who believes it’s just fine to have foreign nations, our sworn enemies, enemies of freedom and democracy, interfere in our elections, choosing our leaders. And a lapdog Republican Party who has blocked all bipartisan attempts to fight that interference.
They understand that fair elections will sweep them from power, and they are willing to do anything, it seems, including a campaign of terrorism against immigrants, most of whom, as citizens, wind up voting for Democrats. They have waged for more than a century and a half a legislative war to suppress and disenfranchise legitimate voters — Jim Crow, Stacy Abrams in Georgia and so many more. To this day.
PRIMARY VOTING HERE STARTS SATURDAY
And goes through March 3. So much for a universal election day. But that’s not the only change. There are lots of them, including the “ballots” or electronic devices you will be voting on. Too many changes to name.
But one thing I found interesting. Despite assurance that these new voting methods were fool proof because everyone will be able to check over their printed ballot that comes from their electronic voting, a study showed that the average voter spends less than a quarter of a second looking over that ballot.
What a tragic mess. And we thought hanging chads were dicey. (Of course, the Republicans went to court to stop the recount on those ballots in Florida. And we wound up with George Bush and the longest war in our history, in Afghanistan, and a totally screwed up and highly dangerous Middle East.)
I’ve received notice of the six places where I may vote in person, but it does not include the Church in Ocean Park. They would have needed to dedicate their main room for 10 straight days, and that would interfere with so many of their other programs, it wasn’t possible.
It makes me really sad to think that if this were my daughter’s first time to vote, she would not be very excited, happy and proud. If she is, this time, it will be because she, like so many young people, strongly supports Bernie Sanders. In the age of Trump, authenticity, moral values and consistency count for a lot.
TWO LAST POINTS
Neither about voting. Some may think I want to blame everything that goes wrong in Santa Monica on City Hall. Not so. I am logical, and reasonable. But I also like to look at the big picture, cause and effect, ripples.
When the city dismisses the making of a porn film in our library during public hours as a misdemeanor that nothing can be done about, I think, I would have much rather heard an official statement that says this is reprehensible, we care more about our residents and especially our children than to let this happen again, and we will immediately try to find ways to address it with new regulations or practices.
When your stance is, can’t be helped, you have taken out a billboard that says, Come to our Santa Monica libraries, cheaper than having to rent a hotel room in the Valley! It is part of the vast web of serious problems we have here that partly stem from our reputation as a city that does not enforce its laws. My email inquiry to Mayor McKeown was not answered by deadline time.
The NBA All-Star game Sunday was nothing short of breathtaking, from Common’s introductions to Jennifer Hudson’s incredible performance to that final nail-biter last quarter, decided by one point. But here’s another thing I noticed, with sadness. The superb tribute to host city Chicago showed a lot of striking murals. Like so many cities they apparently value and preserve them. Santa Monica trashes them.
Charles Andrews has lived in Santa Monica for 34 years and wouldn’t live anywhere else in the world. Really. Send love and/or rebuke to him at firstname.lastname@example.org