I live in Torrance, a suburb of Los Angeles where I moved thirteen years ago as a condition of getting custody of my older sons. It's far more conservative than West Los Angeles where I grew up and worked, or than Venice where I'd lived before. It's an interesting place to live, and the politics are very small-town - which is something I don't necessarily think is a bad thing.
We're about to have a councilmatic election, and one dear friend of TG's is running - Gavin Hachiya Wasserman - who we're supporting because we know him and think he's a good guy, even if a little more conservative than we are.
I'd been looking at supporting other candidates, including Tim Goodrich, a recent Torrance resident, veteran, and antiwar activist.
Even though we disagree on the war and other issues, I'd been generally impressed by his other stances - on the environment, and schools - and had been looking for a progressive to support to see how we might leaven Torrance politics a bit.
But today, I decided not to vote for him. Why? Because yesterday we just got an 11" × 14" mailer from him extolling his military service, veteran status, etc. - and absolutely silent on what his real politics and beliefs are. And I looked back at the mailers we've received (I collect them during election season) and realized that he's fundamentally dissembling about who he is and what he believes in.
Now I get why he'd do that.
Torrance is the city where on Armed Forces Day, there's a giant parade with tanks down Torrance Blvd in front of City Hall. Torrance is a city where - as recently as a decade ago - black people driving through had a remarkably high probability of being pulled over. Torrance is not Venice, trust me.
And I understand why it'd be suicidal to come to Torrance and announce that you're a fan of Che and Jane Fonda and Tom Hayden; but you know what - this kind of dissembling just leaves a damn bad taste in my mouth.
Because I'd like to see a mix of liberal and conservative Councilmembers here. But I'd like evn more for the citizens who elect them to do it with their eyes open, and I'd like to elect a liberal who respects we voters enough - and believes in the power of liberal values enough - to think that they could tell us the truth about their beliefs and win based on their values.
That's not Tim Goodrich. And so I won't be voting for Tim Goodrich when I send in my absentee ballot tonight.
And I think that there's a lesson there for other candidates as well. Tell us the truth about who you are - because if you don't think we'll vote for you if we know it, maybe we won't.