The ceremonial swearing in of new City Council members is often a notable moment; what is notable is that there often something so politically damning, it’s a new milestone.
Two years ago, I wrote that newly inducted Council member Daniel Lee had broken the land speed record for losing faith with voters. Right after taking the oath of office, on the very first evening he sat in the chair, he reversed his position on a policy that he had decreed just weeks earlier – speaking from the podium, not the dais – to be be essential. It was hypocritical, transparently manipulative and worst of all – a massive waste of political capital. Several people who had just voted for him let me know that they were deeply disappointed.
But one of our newly elected has set a whole new standard.
As Albert Vera, Jr. stood to take his oath of office, he revealed his “Blue Lives Matter” wristband, letting everyone know that all his earnest, heartfelt statements to be moderate and listen to both sides of the issue were just campaign promises. Before he even made it to the proverbial dais, before he even sat in the virtual chair, he displayed a clear signal of where his sympathies lie.
Breaking faith with the voters at the speed of light.
To call it a massive waste of political capital is an understatement. After months of campaigning, of answering questions in forums, of sending out mailers and running videos on social media, there’s no wondering where Vera might stand. Now you know. Of the ten thousand plus votes he received, I’m thinking it’s probable that at least half of those either don’t agree with ‘Blue Lives Matter’ or strongly oppose the idea.
Of course, many of those who voted for Vera embrace the rhetoric of ‘Blue Lives’ and insist that police authority cannot and should not be questioned.
The logical problem with the concept is that there are no blue lives. No one is born into a police uniform. No one is drafted to serve as a police officer. It’s a job that people choose to do. People sign up to be members of the Culver City Police Department because they want to. They are not discriminated against, they are not underpaid, they are not disrespected.
My grandfather was a police officer. He chose to do that. I am not ignorant of the challenges involved.
While Vera did, throughout the campaign, say that he also supported ‘Black Lives Matter,’ wearing a symbol like this to your own swearing-in silences all those other statements. If you are wearing a symbol, that is what people see. However you narrate that isn’t going to over-ride the visual impact of that symbol.
Wearing a ‘Blue Lives Matter’ insignia in this moment in American politics, while raising a hand to swear to protect the Constitution, is choosing to overlook that Constitution immediately. .
So, while Vera is now the record holder for the highest number of voters offended with the greatest speed, it remains to the next electoral cycle to see how a newly elected city council member can – and remember, the bar has been set pretty high – let the people who voted know they’ve been had.