Thursday, February 24, 2005

In Race-y City, Little Race-y Politics

Like I was saying, though I adore L.A. politics, the Mayor's Office, the Council, and the whole 9, I just don't think L.A. identity is as politics centered as New York or Chicago or Philadelphia. We've got our hands full with the Industry.

From today's LAT, a raised eyebrow over the lack of electoral "enthusiamsm" in the Latino community.

Last time, it was all about bloc voting - Hahn carried the African American, Jewish, and White voters, Villaraigosa the Latinos - but according to this piece, the Latinos are not so much with the caring this time. (This Latina cares, for the record.) In 2001, there was much hyped excitment about the possibility of Los Angeles electing its first Latino mayor - and many furrowed brows over Congressman Xavier Becerra and former Speaker Antonio Villaraigosa spliting votes and thwarting the Latino victory.

I'll pause here to say while representative (literally) elected officials are important, the best person for the job trumps all other identifiers for me. And you can bet we'll return to this issue should (should, ha!) Hillary pursue the '08 nomination.

Arturo Vargas of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials says the reduced fuss is a sign of "the maturing of the Latino community."

There's also Villaraigosa's campaign elephant that I haven't seen get as much press as it deserves: he swore to his council district constituents that he would serve his full four-year term. While I'd like to think that's led to voter disenchantment, I'm less inclined to think it did more to tire folks than a politically charged fall that's just left people fatigued - Latino or otherwise.

The article closes with one of the most dangerous, derisive political lines as one man ruefully explains that the Latino community let Villaraigosa down: "[He] is a man of the community, he's one of us."

If he's "one of us" how will he govern the rest of them?

That this line is being used in favor of a Latino candidate, however, helps illustrate the rise of the Latino voting bloc - in the 80s it was used as a reason to support the white candidate.

I've made my choice for the Mayor's race, but even if I hadn't, in a city that's about as diverse as it gets, voting based on racial or ethnic identity seems a little dangerous, doesn't it?

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