It’s not just that it’s election season- the last 10 days have been so crowded, they qualify as a month. The city council meeting, the school board meeting, the “Ask 2 Know” candidates debate, the Rotary “Local Heroes” event, the Feista La Ballona meeting, the Chamber of Commerce breakfast, the League of Women Voters forum, on top of classes, clients, homework, housework and – heaven help us – Girl Scout cookies. While some people might sift through these as political or non-political events, I’m here to tell you, they are all political. Even the cookies. Particularly the cookies.
When Andy Weissman brought up the notion that the city council should forgo retirement health benefits, Jeff Cooper chided him for making a political move. Andy Weissman does not do anything – from making a motion on the dais to choosing a tie- which is not political move.
Nor do you.
Every time you open your wallet, you vote. You vote with your feet, you vote with your eyes, and you vote with (of course) your opinions. If you want this little city to be the place that you envision, you have to accept responsibility for how you cast your vote.
As Jerry Chabola accepted the “local hero” title from the Rotary, he told a story about a fellow coach who suddenly had to deal with a fatal diagnosis. As despair moved towards acceptance, he said to Jerry that before he died, he just wanted to be able to walk across the new athletic field. In complete sincerity, Jerry offered from the stage, “I don’t know if we can make that happen.” A voice from the audience called out “Yes we can!”
Politics is how we make the decisions that affect out lives, and yes, frame our deaths. To imagine otherwise to stay in the locked room where ignorance is bliss.
You are currently engaged in the political act of reading. Choosing to access local news on line instead of via a sheet of newsprint is a political choice. If you choose corporate news, or tabloid news online, just the same – it is a vote for how you want the world to be. It’s a vote for who you support, who speaks for you. If you choose to read only political propaganda, and consider that to be news, you are not alone. Millions of Americans opt to ignore the facts every hour of every day in order to keep company with those whose opinions they already know they will agree with. It puts you in the soft, comfortable place of not having to think much because everyone else – well, everyone you know- feels the same way.
Every choice you make has repercussions, and if you think about what those echoes will be, then you are making an informed choice. You gotta walk your talk, or your talk is worthless. Worse, it is counter to what you truly support.
As Dorothy Parker said, “I don’t have to attend every argument I’m invited to.” I choose not to spend my energy getting into a bickering contest over the details. Responding to a response is a strategy so diluted, it’s tasteless. But as Moe Stavenezer once said to me (many years ago) at a Venice Beachhead meeting “You’re getting hate mail ! That’s fantastic! It means you have readers who really, really care what you have to say!”
My choice to write for this community is my vote for keeping ethics and commitment in the center. I could spend just as much time writing fiction or poetry, and then I wouldn’t even have to sit through all those meetings – and I could probably be just as well paid for my efforts. I continue to write because of all the people who read me, and thank me writing, every day.
It is has not gone unnoticed that while our corporate news has an ad from B of A, I have a post about how B of A is abusing a local mortgage holder. That’s how I vote.
Our high school does not need a new athletic field to grant the wish of a dying man. We need one to meet the needs of the tens of thousands of student athletes who will use it. If we can do it in time to make someone’s death more satisfying, even better. No, it’s not a vote against the arts or refurbishing the Frost. We have to know that we have the resources to take care of all of it. Politics “the art of the possible.”
How we choose is how we make it possible.
Andy Weissman is such a good politician, I wish I could vote him into an even higher office – maybe the Senate. Truly, I would like to see Andy sitting on the Supreme Court. When I look at every committee, board and volunteer effort he has made over the last few decades, I know this is someone who understands the politics of politics. I will be delighted to see him re-elected to the city council.
If we paid Jerry Chabola for every off-the-clock hour he has put in taking care of our high school students (and Janet, for that matter,) and he had put all that into an escrow account for the athletic field, we could have every blade of grass replaced by an agricultural landscaper with a master’s degree in feng shui. Jerry is not even a politician, but he knows how the game is played.
Like Andy, there is nothing cynical in it. They live here. So do you.
About those cookies; to me, they are an annual source of irritation, extra work and unneeded sugar. But my girls are scouts because it’s part of my politics.
When I was working in professional politics- at NOW, at LACAAW, at Heal the Bay, I noticed that about 9 out 10 women I met in these organizations were former Girl Scouts. When you are a Girl Scout, you learn to work with a group, to speak in public, and to make plans and follow through. You learn to raise money (cookies) and to budget for projects and expenses. You learn about community service and individual accomplishment. As part of a troop, you can recognize that what you do has an effect on those around you.
Just like living in a city.
It’s not just that it’s election season. You get to vote every day.