Election: Money and the machine are driving local races. Courtesy art

You don’t have much of a chance without it, and where does that leave us?

WHAT JUST HAPPENED?!

You may not know the final election result when you read this, and I don’t as I write it. What I do know is that the Democrats pulled off a miracle by increasing their majority in the Senate and had a shockingly good night given the expectations.

That reminds me of a joke. Hungarian-American beauty queen, socialite and actress, Zsa Zsa Gabor was not much on comedy (or acting, for that matter), but this line was a good one. She married nine times! A Turkish intellectual, Conrad Hilton, British actor George Sanders, an investment banker/philanthropist, the Mattel president responsible for Barbie, Hot Wheels and Chatty Cathy, and she ended with a Prince (of sorts). But her biggest headline was for slapping a Beverly Hills cop who stopped her (she also had an open flask of… Jack Daniels, please!), and then drove off in her $200,000 Rolls Royce convertible while he was writing the ticket. She lost her conviction appeal and spent three days in the slammer but refused to do the community service part. She lived to be two months shy of 100. 

So, her best line was, adjusting her mink stole around and fiddling with her jewels, “I am a mah-velous housekeeper. Every time I leave a man, I keep his house.”

WE COULD USE A LITTLE LEVITY

After this grueling campaign season. Season? It goes on at least two years – some would say it never ends. And that’s one of the big problems. A U.S. Representative, with a two-year term, has to start fundraising and campaigning for the next election the day after they’re certain they’ve won this one. That’s a lot of time spent NOT taking care of the people’s business. Not to mention the consideration needed towards contributors’ desires when they do conduct that business. We should do it like a lot of European nations: call for an election and count the votes six weeks later. And go back to the “equal time” provision in media that Reagan got rid of. He knew what he was doing– right wingers were all over talk radio, and he probably anticipated it on TV (Faux News). And how about media rules/licensing (of the public’s airwaves) that some countries have that prohibit the dissemination of lies? Gosh, what a concept. Next thing you know we won’t have the fun of yelling “FIRE!’ in a crowded theater.

Absolutely, get rid of Citizens United, the absurd Supreme Court decision that declared corporations to be individuals deserving the right to contribute unlimited amounts to campaigns, on the basis of “free speech rights.” Let’s just call any campaign contribution above a minimum level what it is: a bribe.

THE $$$$$$!

Good Gawd what a waste and embarrassment. More than $9B on federal elections campaigning but nearly twice that overall, on this midterm election, topping the previous election – a presidential year. $375M in PA, $275M in GA, so far. It is predicted that figure may rise another $80M in the six weeks of the runoff election campaign. AZ, WI and OH all exceeded $200M spent. It always disturbs me during election “season” when predictions about who might win are based entirely on how much money they’ve raised. So, it doesn’t matter if your candidate spreads the lie about the “steal” of the last election, refuses to say they will accept results this year if they lose, supports taking away a woman’s right to choose and an abortion ban with no exceptions for rape, incest, age (10 years old, fine, it’s the Will of God), or the health of the mother – oh, except for themselves, of course –  took part in the Jan. 6 insurrection in DC, has numerous credible allegations of sexual misconduct or even assault (even with minors), believe that their religion takes precedence over the Constitution (that they swore an oath to uphold), has close ties to white supremacist groups, DOES NOT BELIEVE IN DEMOCRACY, only in power for their side, by any means, or has no more experience or qualifications than as a bestselling book author, snake oil “doctor,” TV news person or long ago football star. 

I mean, think of it. All that matters is how much money you’ve raised? That’s who gets to make our laws, to run our lives? Because with enough lies out there, you can convince enough people of anything. Whatever happened to policies and beliefs?

IN SANTA MONICA

Money talks, for sure – Sue Himmelrich spent $160,000 of her own money to get elected to City Council (demolishing the previous record of $25,000 by Kennedy-family-megamillions backed Bobby Shriver) and she spent another $400,000 from her own bank account this election to (barely) pass her transfer tax measure, put together by her and three other insiders, without community input. 

But what really matters here is the backing of “the machine,” and I don’t know how to describe what anyone who pays attention knows about, without sounding like a tin foil conspirator. I would say it is a loose coalition of the similarly aligned, like the SM Democratic Club, SMRR, Democratic Party tool Unite Here 11 labor union, developer-funded Forward, CLUE (Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice), who believe they are progressive (I’m completely disavowing that label now, especially since seeing it in print applied to people I consider no more progressive than Mussolini) and have a vision for the future good of all and are willing to push for that without any attempt at community consensus. That description sounds to me like the GOP and even the MAGA sect, and I have to say the actions are similar. If you try to run a campaign without their blessing, your chances diminish considerably. That, to me, is a machine

There are long-established political machines everywhere, geared up and practiced to win elections. LA Mayoral candidate Karen Bass is certainly part of one. But even though her opponent Rick Caruso spent more than $100,000,000 of his own money, it looks like he came up short. He should have checked over his machine more thoroughly before hitting the road.

The results are not yet in for City Council, and it could wind up being a total loss  for independents claiming to represent the residents. The School Board race was a similar disaster (from my perspective). The two longtime incumbents and their acolyte won, with only the Malibu representative from the A Brighter Future organization winning which will make her totally ineffective.

And yes, we must always follow the $$$, mustn’t we? Santa Monica College got their school bond to pass, another $375M, on top of more than $1B we have granted them over the last decade. If you pay property tax in Santa Monica, you are paying for these. Renters? Oh sure, vote for the bond, I don’t pay for it. And with SMMUSD politics steamrolling ahead as usual, they will be adding for another several hundred million too, on top of their $1B.

Isn’t this the definition of corruption? Where everything has dollar signs and the power goes to the richest and most organized, not to the people and their representatives? Sen. I’m hardly naive. This has been going on for time immemorial. But we evolve, hopefully. Bernie Sanders and a handful of others (Rep. Katie Porter in Orange County, God bless her) are still right: we need to rethink the way we do things.

Charles Andrews has lived in Santa Monica for 36 years and wouldn’t live anywhere else in the world. Really. Send love and/or rebuke to him at  therealmrmusic@gmail.com

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