"When you run for something and get the most votes, that makes you the winner. That rule pretty much applies to all areas of life."
- Mike Hakverdian on Nextdoor
As a child, I would ask my father every Father's Day why there was no children's day. He would shake his head and tell me the same answer he gave me every year: "Every day is children's day."
These memories came to mind this week as I heard that a right-winger with "a history " of organizing violent events" is attempting to plan a Straight Pride Parade for Boston. Of course, this would only make sense in Trump's America where passing laws that protect the LBGTQ+ community from discrimination are considered to be attacks on one's freedom to practice the religion of their choice. While the pride month that is currently being celebrated is rooted in the routine harassment of the patrons of gay bars and the 1969 Stonewall Riots that occurred when the community had finally had enough, one has to wonder what the spark is for "straight pride." Was it the recent time when straights were denied the ability to marry the person that they loved? Or when they could be arrested for engaging in sexual activity in the privacy of their own bedroom? Or were denied the ability to serve their country in the military?
Rather than the celebration of our differences, an event marking straight pride is the last gasp of a majority that has finally lost its ability to enforce sameness. A funeral would be more fitting than a joyful procession. One can only hope that the planned route for these bigots will proceed straight into the same Boston Harbor where our Founding Fathers drowned their oppression.
This week also threw water on the fire of hope that the Democrats can rescue us from this insanity when front-runner Joe Biden managed to take every possible position on the Hyde Amendment. This law prevents federal funding for women seeking an abortion and prevents poor women from exercising their right to control their bodies. In the past, Biden supported the amendment, which may have made sense in a world where it was seen as a compromise with those opposed to abortion. However, in the past month, conservatives have proven once again that they have no interest in compromise on this or any other subject. Emboldened by the elevation of Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court red states have ignored the law and legal precedent to take steps that would effectively outlaw the procedure. Therefore, no one should have been surprised when the former Vice-President told a supporter that he now opposed the amendment. Except for his campaign switched course the next day and reiterated his support. Then under fire from his competitors, he switched back to opposing it.
This inability to take a position and stick to it reinforces Biden's reputation as an establishment politician whose stated view has nothing to do with his personal beliefs. Instead, he is guided by polls and the donors who purchase the right to whisper into his ear. While candidates like Elizabeth Warren have no problem standing on the strength of their detailed policy papers, Biden relies on his abilities as a salesman. He will, therefore, smile at you, shake your hand and swear that he has always been progressive while knowing that he backed a bankruptcy bill that sold out consumers in favor of the banks that donated generously to his campaigns.
But all hope was not lost this week. Yes, in a city council election that was a microcosm for the viruses that infect our national politics three of the five top finishers were firmly grounded in the establishment. One was the former Chief of Staff to the Republican city councilman who left his job early to cash in with a job in the private sector. Another was a staff member to the local Congressman who calls himself a Democrat but should be in line to be the next victim of the Justice Democrats. Another was a former city councilman (from a different city) who was backed by a former Congressman whose "significant legislative accomplishments involve the transfer of huge amounts of taxpayer money to quasi-private entities that are then liberated from government oversight." However, the first place finisher was an ordinary mom who happens to have a degree in astrophysics.
Dr. Loraine Lundquist is a local activist who is well known for standing up to the Southern California Gas Company after the Porter Ranch blowout. While the previous city councilman was slow to react to the emergency, Lundquist was on the front lines from the beginning. While government officials were toeing the line that there were no health risks, people like Lundquist were demanding action. This eventually led to the movement of thousands of residents and the relocation of two local public schools. She has served on the Northridge East Neighborhood Council and is the co-chair of their homelessness committee.
As the first results flashed across the screen at Lundquist election night party, her supporters (of which I am one) got a glimpse of what it must have been like for AOC when she defied expectations and beat the incumbent in her primary. Their underdog candidate had taken down candidates who were heavily bankrolled and favored by the establishment. A dragon slayer had risen.
Lundquist's battle is not over. Since Los Angeles does not use a ranked choice method of voting and no candidate secured over 50% of the vote, a runoff election will be held on August 13. The wounded establishment will likely throw everything they have at reversing the fortunes of their candidate, who seeks to continue the local tradition of Chiefs of Staff taking the seat of their previous boss. However, with ordinary people given a taste of victory in the primary, they will head into this new campaign with wind under their sails.
Carl Petersen is a parent and special education advocate, elected member of the Northridge East Neighborhood Council and was a Green Party candidate in LAUSD's District 2 School Board race. During the campaign, he was endorsed by Network for Public Education (NPE) Action and Dr. Diane Ravitch called him a "strong supporter of public schools." His past blogs can be found at www.ChangeTheLAUSD.com. Opinions are his own.