LA Leads the Country in Apathy

BELL VIEW--I intended to write this week about the Supreme Court’s decision in the wedding cake fiasco.

But that’ll have to wait because I woke up this morning to see that voter turnout in Tuesday’s primary electioncame it at a whopping 22%.Eighteen-and-a-half in LA County. I know we won’t know the final tally till sometime later this week – but, unless someone finds another 14 or so million ballots hiding under the couch somewhere, it’s looking like another dismal showing. 

I wake up every day angry. Anger and fatigue at my anger consume virtually every minute of my life – or at least it feels that way some days. I’m angry that a segment of this country reacted to the election of the first black president – a flawed human being, a politician – by electing the single worst white person on the planet to replace him. I’m angry that my identity is wrapped up somehow – beyond my control – with this cheap racist grifter and his despicable family. 

If I could vote again tomorrow, I’d do it. When people tell you you’re vote doesn’t count, you have to bear in mind they’re discussing a system where 80% of the eligible voters can’t be bothered to turn out. Support from Trump among Republicans is rising with every horrific move he makes. They voted for this, and he’s delivering. Republicans aren’t complacent – they’re ecstatic. In Orange County 26% of the registered voters turned out for Trump’s favorite Californian – John Cox. Twenty-six percent hardly amounts to a wave, but compared to LA County’s 18.5%, it’s a tsunami. 

I understand this Tuesday was the primary – not the general. Turnout in the general promises to be higher. But do the bulk of people who stayed home on Tuesday know the difference? For the past week, you couldn’t turn the corner without someone shouting VOTE! at you. Do the silent 80% know we were shouting at them? In the general election, we can probably count on the regular 46% or so to drag themselves down to the polls. That’s what qualifies as a “Blue Wave” in this bluest part of the bluest state in the union. (For what it’s worth, San Francisco County reached 33% -- pathetic, but practically Mardi Gras compared to LA.) 

I don’t understand what to do. EveryoneI know voted. They posted about it on social media. They wore their stickers to work and the grocery store. They took their kids to the polls to educate them in this basic duty of democracy. But somewhere, somewhere all around us, millions and millions of people either didn’t know about the election or didn’t care. 

My die-hard leftist friends tell me people stay home because they have nothing to vote for. This makes me angrier than almost anything. How can we tell we have nothing to vote for until we actually vote? The politicians don’t care what we think because we don’t put money in their pockets and we don’t vote. Apathy has become the single greatest driver of policy in this country – and LA County is showing the rest of the country how it’s done.  


 (David Bell is a writer, attorney, former president of the East Hollywood Neighborhood Council and writes for CityWatch.)