Random Lengths News

American Tribalism on Full Display

- By James Preston Allen, Publisher

I thought that it was just San Pedro that had reverted to a form of cultural Balkanizat­ion when I attended the Dalmatian American Club fish luncheon a few weeks back. The room was divided by followers of either Tim McOsker or Danielle Sandoval, both competing to replace Joe Buscaino to represent LA City Council District 15. There was a cold serving of veiled hostility in the room that could be tasted along with the mostacciol­i and exquisite salmon. Social snubbing and snide remarks reminded me of the “mean girls” from high school. Except these were supposed to be the adults in the room.

This factionali­sm only became more pronounced when the Sandoval campaign was exposed in the Los Angeles Times for an eight- yearold wage dispute claim that came out just two months before the election. It appears someone has been doing their opposition research and leaked it just in time. My skepticism is heightened.

In the following days, I was lobbied by people who normally don’t ever call me, asking me to change my endorsemen­t of Sandoval. Like Elise Swanson, the executive director of the San Pedro Chamber of Commerce who wrote, “As the leading voice for small business in San Pedro, we are asking you to take a hard look at the candidates in this race before you vote.”

As a longtime member of this organizati­on and a former board member, I can’t recall this chamber or any chamber of commerce standing up for worker rights. Ever!

And then came the verbal attacks against this newspaper: “You’re dividing the community.” To which I replied, “to the contrary.” What we have promoted so far is a competitiv­e race. I’ve witnessed this community become as engaged in this race since Janice Hahn first ran for office more than 20 years ago. When I founded this newspaper, I promised this community a democratic horse race rather than a coronation by the power elites of San Pedro who have for decades exercised overarchin­g control of CD15 politics and politician­s.

Looking back at more than 50 years of council races, there hasn’t been one council rep that wasn’t from San Pedro. The worst ones have been those who claim they were born and raised here, as if their place of birth was a qualificat­ion for office in and of itself.

The bad behavior of this tribalism has even filtered out from the McOsker campaign by his supporters who have threatened businesses that posted Sandoval signs with threats of boycotts of their business or worse. This is such juvenile bad politics that is so anti-free speech that I am left with just anger and disrespect for those who participat­e in it. Political campaigns should be the most protected form of speech in America and I’ll defend that form of freedom, no matter who you are supporting — except the hate speech coming from Nury Martinez or Steve Bannon who, by the way, showed up in Torrance recently to give a keynote speech to the Globalist Puppet Masters conference Oct. 2.

I mean really, the most despised MAGA conspirato­r shows up in our area and there is hardly a peep out of the people who are screaming the loudest about a Latina running for office because what? An unresolved, eight-year-old wage claim, or is it that she’s not a part of the Pedro power structure?

Not unlike the upheaval in LA City Hall over the leaked racial slurs, the real issue was not the words but the intent of racial gerrymande­ring of districts. Not that I dismiss the impact of words. But if you live anywhere in LA, you’ve heard them. There’s at least one derogatory word for each of the 140 nationalit­ies who live here. This leak exposed a serious kind of tribalism on the citywide stage that goes beyond prejudice, but is truly racist. And it exposed the most damaging hypocrisy of some of the city hall elites — Nury Martinez is a victim of her own prejudices. And she endorsed McOsker too.

The resulting uprising against her, Kevin de León, Gil Cedillo and Ron Herrera of the LA County Federation of Labor was quick if unexpected, but had they been MAGA Republican­s they would have had no shame.

The curious part of all of this is how quickly or deeply this sense of tribalism has become in an era of populist MAGA hostilitie­s and a nation facing autocratic insurrecti­on — the only way that American democracy, even in Los Angeles, will be defeated is by its own failure to live up to and defend its creed of liberty and justice for all. And that includes people on opposing sides not denigratin­g themselves with the use of hate speech and bullying threats.

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