June 20, 2008

The Public Forum . . . El Foro Publico

Taking Pride in High Levels of Voter Apathy?

“San Diegans won’t have to wait till November to see who the next mayor is. Incumbent Jerry Sanders topped 53 percent of the vote, leaving his rival, businessman Steve Francis, lagging well behind. Francis earned just 35 percent, in spite of spending well over $4 million on the campaign. (KPBS reporter Alison St John).

Is it not somewhat sad, that there could be politicians or political leaders who could walk around, seemingly prideful, boasting of their past performance lead to being elected/re-elected... when voter turnout was less than 24%? To think, even if a political candidate were to have gotten all of the only 24% of the eligible voters who voted last election - that is still less than one quarter of the voters supporting that candidate. Yet more, to have garnered only some 50% of that less than 25% of those few still enfranchised voters who even cared to vote seems to indicate that fewer than 13% of the voters in San Diego voted in support of that candidate. This appears to show that we are happy to have people in power that represent only about One out of every Ten of San Diego’s registered voters. And the percentage of eligible voters in San Diego who are actually registered – well, let us not even talk about those indicators showing rising levels of voter apathy/disentrancement.

Levels of wage compensations and benefits associated with employment appear to be decreasing (for almost all the working class but City/Government Employees.) Yet, to dare to speak the words “Rent Control” in San Diego appears to mean that you will likely be asked to leave by local ‘leaders’ or perhaps face efforts to de-legitimize, deflection, or disqualification by people holding the majority of Cultural and Economy power, even in our own social/cultural/ethnic groups. That some of us ask that the homeless have shelter, the hungry feed, the sick cared for compassionately, and that all people be treated with the same levels of respect and civil/human rights - appears to make us as radicals. Yet some 70% of the voting citizens of San Diego appear to support Christianity in the form of spending taxpayer’s money in efforts to keep a cross on top of a hill. Do the people really support increased levels of City Debt, the growing levels of interest and maintenance payments on that debt, or the building of homes and housing that, last year, only some One out of every Ten people in San Diego could afford?

I fear that winning an election in San Diego means little more than having the support that fewer than 10 % of our population. Conditions in San Diego for those who have found it harder to pay our electric bills, for those of us who find it harder to pay what seems like yearly increases in our water and wastewater bills… have not improved. Exactly what successes have any of our leaders realized over these last 10 years? Moreover, exactly what does it mean when groups claiming to represent taxpayers, citizens… Latinos — continue to support policies and politicians who appear to be happy to give us fewer City Services at ever-increasing levels of cost? Perhaps, we should look back, to our recent past, and take note of whom these powerful people and groups have endorsed and or reflect on the changes in our environments. Have we realized improvements on our levels of reflective-representation? Have we realized and improved in employment, wages, cost of living? Are things better for us, easier for us, are we living in housing conditions and economies better than our elders did when they were our age? Have our local political environments become equal and inclusive? Do we feel we have the right to ask such questions with the powerful of even our own groups attempting to silence us minimizing even those few who would dare to make a little noise or ask that things change for the better – for all of us? No, we stay silent - while an apparently self-selected ‘talented’ 10% (One out of every Ten) of our eligible voters support what seems to be mediocrity and failure.

Gregory Morales

San Diego

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