We All Lost This Election-Even Our Winners
By Jerry Waxman
First of all, let me congratulate all of the candidates from both parties who took part in the recent elections. You are all special people. I only wish that more people had voted for both you and your opponents, about four times more people. Why? Because a twenty per cent vote is in no way indicative of any geographical district and only reflects the money spent on targeted voters. This has been a troubling trend for many years.
Back in 1980 Paul Weyrich, a Republican operative who was instrumental in founding both The Heritage Foundation and The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) told a crowd of 15000 conservative preachers:
“Now many of our Christians have what I call the “goo goo” syndrome. Good Government. They want everybody to vote. I don’t want everybody to vote. Elections are not won by a majority of people. They never have been from the beginning of our country, and they are not now. As a matter of fact, our leverage in the elections quite candidly goes up as the voting populace goes down.”
As bad as voter suppression is, especially with what is happening in Florida and other states with Republican governors and legislatures, that is no excuse for the pathetic turnout in the Aug. 14th primary. The Democrats outnumber the Republicans in the county by huge margins, yet they lag far behind in activities, fund raising and precinct captains. The Republicans have far more precinct positions filled that the Democrats and have well over 200 members on their rolls; the Democrats barely reach 100 in membership.
To his credit OCDEC Chairman Scott Randolph has tried to rectify this imbalance and as a result membership is up for the time being. The shame of it is that due to redistricting he is not running for re-election for the house where he was an effective minority legislator and constant thorn in the side of Dean Cannon. Unfortunately, this is an election year and what the Democrats have is a young, inexperienced Precincts chair that has spent more time working on one campaign or another than tending to business. It is critical to fill those positions as quickly as possible. Precinct Committee people should be the first line of action in getting people involved and filling those vacancies will get more people involved. There’s room for at least 200 precinct members more and if Democrats want to win locally those positions are important. A bigger turnout might have changed some if not all of those races; after all if people don’t vote they have no right to complain about their representation.
Now that the general election is on the horizon local Democrats need to be keenly aware that they will have no coattails from the Obama people. It didn’t happen in 2008 and it won’t happen this year either. The local races still have a bigger impact on our daily lives than the big national ones. Local races put people in office who can affect our everyday lives a lot more than Paul Ryan can. Locally elected politicians determine what our schools get and how they run, how much we pay in local taxes, how our local health care system functions, and if you don’t think that is important then you’re brain dead. Local apathy kept two good progressives out of the runoff in County Commission District 3. Local apathy allowed the incumbent commissioner in District 5 to continue his disgraceful non-voting record. Local apathy from Democrats in HD 49 allowed for a lopsided race that should at least have been tighter. Local apathy (and expenditures of over $100,000.00 each), in two Ninth Circuit races, allowed for incumbent judges to continue their intolerant and insensitive ways. This shouldn’t have been. With two high stakes county races and two high profile congressional races in the mix Republicans managed to turn out more voters than Democrats but not by real significant numbers unless you consider that Democrats hold a countywide advantage of 80,000 votes. That’s an absolutely shameful performance.
The Ashton Lamar race probably would not have changed much nor would the Demmings Green race, but big numbers are always more impressive and show voter trends more than small ones. The only trend that small numbers show is that people just don’t care, and for that we all lose.