Los Angeles Municipal Election (May 2013)

21 May
Seal of Los Angeles, California. On March 27, ...

Seal of Los Angeles, California. On March 27, 1905 Ordinance 10,834 authorized and described the City Seal still being used today http://cityclerk.lacity.org/cps/pdf/cityseals.pdf. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As someone who loves politics, especially on the local level, I feel that I’m going to be disappointed with the turnout of the election being held today, May 21, 2013.  I was a resident of the city for 3 years, and I voted while I resided there, whether it was for the presidential or municipal level.  I knew that voters in my age group (18-21) were horribly underrepresented on the city level (and it turns out that although there was the highest turnout from UCLA for the presidential election in 2008, turnout from those living on “The Hill” was less than 1%).  I was extremely embarrassed to be part of a school that exemplified the highest virtues of academics, professionalism, and activism, but not in regards to our civic duties of voting.

When people complain, they blame the president when they should instead be looking at their mayor and city council.  When the economy does well, they praise the president, when it really should be their respective governors and/or state legislature.  When we think of government, we should look to ourselves and determine if we really deserve it.  These are the times when China seems to be doing better with their population, albeit only in terms of the economy (not human rights, the environment, etc.).  And if democracy really is determined by the average voter, then I’m really scared, because the average voter does not care about the election, let alone even knows about it.  We must do something better, but for now, we can only hope for something better.

 

More information about the Los Angeles mayoral race, including other down-ballot races: http://www.latimes.com/news/local/2013mayorsrace/

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6 Responses to “Los Angeles Municipal Election (May 2013)”

  1. Robert A. Vella May 21, 2013 at 4:52 pm #

    The growing problem of voter apathy and low turnout is being documented throughout the western world (E.J. Dionne wrote a recent article in the Washington Post about this), and it poses a severe threat to democracy. However, the phenomenon is not being caused by general disinterest among the populace, but rather, by widespread exasperation that government no longer works for ordinary people.

    The irony here is that this populist disillusionment is exactly what powerful corporate interests want, an emasculation of the very thing which empowers the public interest – participatory democratic government. If the decline continues, as is likely, America is destined to devolve further into corporatism and possibly even plutocratic authoritarianism where big money explicitly rules.

    History tells us this has happened many times before with disastrous consequences. Hopefully, young people will wake up in time and start getting politically involved. It is, after all, their future.

    • E.L. Beck May 22, 2013 at 8:34 am #

      Bob – And I might add that to incentivize those who the corporatists want at the voting booth, they throw in social issues for motivation.

    • ronarruejo May 22, 2013 at 6:26 pm #

      I do believe that there is both a general disinterest among the people in addition to the “widespread exasperation that government no longer works for ordinary people”. I cannot just believe that it is just the latter, or else, it’ll be much more difficult to turnaround the attitudes of young adults like myself. Like you said, this feedback loop would just reinforce itself until government is unresponsive to the people. With the former, education is all that is needed. of course, there is no panacea, but it seems that it’ll take something drastic to remind the American public about their right to vote and the consequences of asserting, or throwing, that right.

      • E.L. Beck May 23, 2013 at 10:01 am #

        “that it’ll take something drastic to remind the American public about their right to vote”

        But it is far more than simply the right to vote. In fact, the right to vote is a morally weak impetus for engaging the system, as it takes little effort to simply vote. After all, no voter is barred from voting based on ignorance of the issues, or the candidates.

        And the voting system itself is gamed by the two-party system and thus deserving of our disdain: consider the presidential campaigns. The funding required to launch and maintain a presidential campaign is massive. Acquiring that funding requires handing out a large number of quid pro quos, which allows the elite to vet a candidate long before he or she ever appears on the ballot. Thus, when we vote between one of two candidates from the major parties, we are simply selecting one of two candidates who are already committed to special interests.

        “Freedom isn’t free” is usually associated with military service, but it also applies to simply being a citizen. It means educated, meaningful civic engagement. Without this component, nothing will move forward with our present issues. As Hannah Arendt so eloquently put it in On Revolution: “The point is that the Americans (in the founding era) knew that public freedom consisted in having a share in public business, and that the activities connected with this business by no means constituted a burden but gave those who discharged them in public a feeling of happiness they could acquire nowhere else” (Chp. 3). Until that lesson sinks in, we will get nowhere.

        I do agree wholeheartedly, however, with your position that politics must once again get local, but a decentralization of governance will have to take place.

    • Robert A. Vella May 22, 2013 at 8:37 pm #

      E.L., yes, the politics of division both unifies and motivates the right-wing.

      Ron, I’ll concede your point, but I see it as “distraction” rather than “disinterest.” Young people are more preoccupied with social activities and constructing their lives. Politics usually becomes important later on, and that’s why older folks have historically higher voter turnout rates.

      When I was a young man, I used to say the same thing many Millennials say today: “My vote doesn’t really count, so why bother?” Well, I was not only wrong, I was also being intellectually lazy.

      • ronarruejo May 22, 2013 at 9:05 pm #

        I do admit that you are quite right that my point might be more ‘distraction’ than ‘disinterest’ for the following reasons you have laid out. Simply, the 18-24 age demographic, like myself, doesn’t care and/or doesn’t have the time. I am, admittedly, grasping for the more positive explanation for low voter turnout even though I know that you are right, or at the very least, more right.

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