WINNING AN ELECTION

Not an easy thing to do. It takes a lot of work,  a lot of hours. You have to want very badly to be of service to your constituents, your community. And so in my previous CURIOUS CITY I congratulated all the winners in our recent local election. But there are different ways to win an election, aren’t there?

Sometimes a group who wants to gain or maintain a grip on power chooses a candidate they think can win, and will vote and govern the way that suits them. That candidate might be dumb as a rock and have a sordid past but they sure know what to do with a football, or be more than willing and skillful at dismissing any questions about their past with one big lie after another. Sometimes that candidate is a celebrity and doesn’t even live in their district, but at the last minute buys a “home address.” We saw that happen in the last national election. But nothing like that here in li’l ol’ Santa Monica, right? You’d have to have a political machine that was so established, so well organized, with so much influence, and money and manpower – to pull it off. And we don’t have that… exactly.

But we have something close, and apparently just as effective. Because in our last election you had candidates who “came out of nowhere” to win a surprising number of votes and even get elected. But that’s my opinion.

In the absence of provable facts (or sometimes even with them) – look how difficult it has been to pin the Jan. 6th insurrection on the guy who would have benefited – it does often come down to how two people see so differently the same set of circumstances. Smart politics? Or dirty politics?

DOES VOTING MATTER?

Some have so lost faith that our political system can provide us with elected officials who will work for the welfare of constituents, that they have given up and will not vote. That’s a logical conclusion, and a legitimate choice. But in my opinion, a short sighted one.

Does your vote count? (Don’t ask George Carlin. – 4:55) That’s a pretty big, basic question in a democracy. But we have millions of American idiots who now, thanks to Orange fever, question democracy itself. Don’t be distracted.

Questioning the efficacy of voting has merit. Many in the youngest generations do, based on too much ugly evidence. I say we can’t let that happen, for two reasons:  voting is our only hope, and it could well be that those youngest generations are also our only hope. I heard one commentator, about two weeks before the election, predict that there would be no red wave, the polls were wrong because they hadn’t talked to Gen Z and they had registered to vote in record numbers. I think he was right. I think that was the difference. And only about half of them were old enough to vote, so it will be even more of a factor in the next election.

A NEW PARTY?

No, forming a new party is not realistic in 21st century America, the GOP is hopelessly deluded and dangerous, Greens and Libertarians can’t win elections, so the answer is to get good candidates through the muck of the Democratic Party. It can be done. A smart young Dem, in FL (!), Maxwell Frost, 25, was elected the first Gen Z member of the US Congress, the sixth youngest ever (and five of the others were born in the 1700s). 

We see even locally how un-Democratic the Democratic Club of Santa Monica is, led by Jon Katz. Dirty tricks worthy of the worst Republican operatives. Topsy turvy. But as for city elections, it is a more complicated story.  The Dems stand in the way of resident governance, rather than outside interests first, but locally, so does SMRR, Forward, Abundant Housing, the League of Women Voters, Unite Here local 11, etc.

As a lifelong Democrat, whose father served at FDR’s summer White House at Hyde Park, I have become completely disenchanted with the Democratic Party. But I’m a realist, and understand they are the only path to sanity. We need better candidates through a better process of selecting candidates. So there you go. That’s where the work must be done. 

If you can take the stand that voting counts, I believe we must address other issues, myths here in Santa Monica that distract us from real solutions for our residents.

There is not a housing crisis, there is an affordability crisis. You cannot build your way to affordability; was the mantra of many, all you’re doing is clogging a once wonderful city with massive numbers of unneeded (by our current population) market rate housing, which benefits only developers and raises the price on all housing.

The most important thing, to me, is that we take care of the people who already live here, not the ones some would like to see come, and make sure long standing residents can somehow stay in their homes, through subsidies or some other creative means. Densification is only good where it is needed and it is not needed here. Our quality of life has been decimated through these disingenuous political arguments.

Homelessness is a regional problem and cannot be solved in Santa Monica alone.

We don’t have enough water. Stop building like we do.

We need more police, not defunding. Unfortunately the City is broke, no, far in debt, mainly because nothing was done after two sexual predators in the Police Athletic League, and the third one has now cost us more than $100,000,000 and that number could double. Is that how we should be spending our money? My first complaint, starting years ago, was about the way our City Council spent money like it was a Monopoly game.

You can’t eliminate cars. This is Southern CA. We can do better but solutions must not be based on some projection of future transportation. Get the transit infrastructure first. Don’t pretend we have it now, and plan on that false basis.

Face the facts – we are not a progressive city. Nor compassionate, and much less diverse than we were even a decade ago. Because of the policies of past City Councils. But that false image is very useful to some, on the world stage.

We have started to go in the right direction since the 2020 election with a slate of self-proclaimed residents-first candidates, joined often by appointee Lana Negrete, but the long established power structure was alarmed by that shift and pulled out all the stops to regain power this last election. They will only intensify efforts for 2024. We need to focus on the real problems and solutions, not political hocus pocus that intentionally distracts us.

So as I suggested in my previous column, that next election has already started.  Time, effort and smart politics are of the essence. What are you going to do about it? 

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