Changing the subject. Karl Rove was a master at it. In the decade past, he pushed the GOP to victory by focusing on “family values” (i.e. opposition to abortion and gay rights). He convinced voters to ignore such major issues as the country’s growing income disparity and the disastrous war in Iraq and to focus on what people did in their bedrooms. So I find it odd that it’s a Democrat who’s trying to get West Hollywood voters to look the other way in the upcoming municipal election.
LA County Democratic Party Chairman Eric Bauman says the party establishment opposes proposed term limits for West Hollywood city council members because it’s “a divisive measure funded and led by Republicans and failed candidates for city council …”
Bauman has at least one thing right. The term limits campaign, now dubbed “Yes on Measure C,” is chaired by Lauren Meister, who lost a bid for a city council seat. A leading supporter is former council member Steve Martin, who has lost other election bids and is trying again. Meister and Martin, however, are Democrats. It’s true that another prominent supporter is Scott Schmidt, a Republican. I’m betting a deep dive into the Measure C supporter list also might turn up members of the Green Party, the Libertarian Party, the Peace and Freedom Party and maybe a few elderly Communists that Joe McCarthy didn’t flush out in the 1950s.
Frankly, who cares? Party affiliation has nothing to do with the issues — including term limits — that face West Hollywood today. I say that as a “yellow dog Democrat,” a term used in my native North Carolina to describe someone like me who has always voted for Democrats and always will. But I vote “party” when party matters.
When it comes to city government, party doesn’t matter in West Hollywood. What matters is the positions candidates take on issues such as preservation versus community development, on whether WeHo benefits from more urban density or should remain an “urban village” and on whether term limits will solve a problem that, in my estimation, stems from a lack of civic engagement (evidenced by the fact that the turnout for municipal elections has fallen by two-thirds since West Hollywood’s incorporation in 1984). At WEHOville, we’re not pressing council candidates to declare their political affiliation. Instead we’ve asked each of them to offer his response to the issues noted above and others that they think matter. So far, four of nine have deigned to reply. We’ll post all the responses later in the month, along with a list of those who aren’t willing to speak to the issues.
As I end this commentary, I’d like to suggest that just as council candidates better serve West Hollywood by taking positions on the issues, Eric Bauman and the Democratic leadership will better serve my party if they start focusing on the issues. Surely Bauman, like Karl Rove, must have noticed that changing the subject didn’t work in the 2012 election. Bauman’s effort to blame mysterious forces for publicity about Betsy Butler’s role in killing a law to expedite removal of sexual predators from classrooms didn’t get her re-elected to the state Assembly. Donald Trump’s incessant questioning of Barack Obama’s birthplace and the far right’s attack on Obama’s bold declaration of support for gay marriage didn’t get Mitt Romney into the White House.
Changing the subject. Think about it Mr. Bauman. As Sarah Palin or Dr. Phil might ask: “How’s that working for ya?”