Red Tide, Vol. II, No. 6 (Issue #10)
City Elections Offer No Solution
[By Michael Letwin]
Well, as we all know, on May 29th, Tom Bradley won the office of Mayor, while beating the incumbent of 12 years, Sam Yorty. But again, just as much as in the presidential elections[,] we do not feel that this election will make very much difference in what happens in L.A. Both contesting candidates for mayor, Bradley and Yorty, had bad positions on the issues that we feel are important, for both men have many of the same interests.
Yorty (as we know from 12 years of experience) has been ineffective in solving the problems of L.A. There is more unemployment, smog, cars and freeways, not to mention police (and all of the other things that make life worth living) now, then there was when he first came into office.
He is not interested in securing jobs for the thousands of unemployed workers in L.A. He has not made efforts to place strong restrictions on industry in the area. He is not interested in replacing L.A.’s huge network or freeways and poisonous cars with free, fast land healthy rapid transit, and generally, instead of trying to get to the causes of L.A.’s other problems, he hires more police and builds more freeways. In addition to all of this, is the not-so-subtle racism that he has historically used against his opponent, Bradley.
On the other band, there is Bradley, now elected mayor. Ex-cop, black man up from the ranks, trying harder than hell to prove that he’s not a militant.
He too, as we shall see in the next few years, does not have the real answers to L.A. ‘s problems. In his efforts to outdo Yorty’s conservatism, he concentrated on “Law and-Order, and his support for the police (who exist primarily to protect the property and lives of the rich).
Bradley’s position on gang violence does not get to the bottom and cause of the situation. His solution, sending more troops into black and Chicano schools, will only lead to more repression in those communities. He does not understand that the cause lies in unemployment, and the generally rotten conditions in the poor communities.
He too does not have the solutions to the other above-mentioned problems.
The reason for this lack of alternatives is simple. Both of these men receive much of their support from the rich capitalists of L.A.[,] who are in so many cases the cause of the problems. Both candidates are part of the system [that] exists for profit, and therefore we cannot expect them to see that economic and political system as the cause of our problems, which it most definitely is. Evidently, many voters felt that the choice would not mean much[,] as only 45% of all eligible voters took part in the elections.
BOARD OF EDUCATION
There were some other offices involved in the elections, but perhaps the one that meant the most, next to mayor, was the Board of Education. These are the people who have the say over our “education.”
Here too, we are faced with bleak choices all around. The two incumbents, Newman and Ferraro, both defeated their challengers, Arnett Hartsfield and Diane Watson.
Newman and Ferraro have both been staunch opponents of students’ rights. They have opposed freedom of distribution on campus of materials. Ferraro voted not to allow Jane Fonda to speak on L.A. school campuses, thereby opposing our right to hear speakers of our choice. Neither have solutions to the school violence problem. They both are bastions of the “old guard,” and are doing their best to keep the schools free of “unsafe and dangerous” ideas.
On the other hand, there [were] the two defeated candidates, Hartsfield and Watson. These liberal candidates, both black, failed to put forward good policies on education, or solutions to the present problems.
Arnett Hartsfield[,] for instance, said when speaking on one high school campus, that he is not for students having the right to hear anyone on campus without administration interference. He does not support uncensored material on campus. On top of this, he has said that he does not support the right of students to have open and informative birth control and abortion information centers on campus, nor does he give unqualified support to teachers right to strike.
All of this didn’t easily distinguish him from his opponent, Ferraro. In fact when asked what he considered the major differences between himself and Ferraro to be, he replied that it was primarily a matter of “differing personalities.”
Diane Watson, for the most part, has basically many of the same positions as does Arnett Hartsfield above, perhaps with the exception that she has a slightly better position on the right of teachers to strike.
And as always[,] the teachers and students have no control over what is happening in the schools, even though it is they who have to live in them.
But even after all the facts are in, we are often criticized for being “negative” or “angry” about things. To this we must say that yes, we are negative about the way that this society is run, and we are angry about the same things. We are negative and angry about the fact that we are taught lies in school, that a few people in this country are rich and powerful, while most people are poor and powerless[,] that people we know are in jail and that the capitalist system which exists in this country is the cause of all of these things.
We are asked, “what is your alternative[?]” We must reply that the real changes will only happen when the basic structure of this society is changed, that until workers, who have produced this society[,] are in control, our problems will not be solved. Until that time, we will not be saddled with the false choices that we are offered in elections or anywhere else.
[Historical Note: The Red Tide was a revolutionary high school underground newspaper and youth organization that existed from 1971-1981. See: http://theredtide.wordpress.com/]