Photo Credit: Chris Leipelt/Unsplash

Hilbert Morales

The California Statewide Direct Primary Election of June 5, 2018 happened yesterday as scheduled. It’s the “2018 Primary Election”. To really understand what is seriously impacts America’s Democratic governance, I suggest reading “DARK MONEY: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right” (Publisher: Doubleday 2016; author: Jane Mayer, staff writer, The New Yorker). This book’s front page has a Louis Brandeis quote: “We must make out choice. We may have democracy, or we may have the wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can’t have both.”

“DARK MONEY” documents Koch brothers planning to use considerable (crude oil) wealth to organize Billionaires use and coordinate their money to influence elections at federal, state, and local governance levels. The current focus on NRA (National Rife Association) is currently an effective smoke screen obscuring the activity of PAC’s funded by ‘DARK MONEY’. This ‘movement’ was initiated during 1976 and has expanded as America’s economy produces more Billionaires.

For example: In CA’s Governor’s election DEM Gavin Newsom (92,791 votes; 48.4%) will compete against a relatively unknown REP businessman John H. Cox who garnered (27,463 votes; 14.42%). DEM Antonio Villaraigosa (former L.A. Mayor) placed third (20,198 votes; 10.61%). PAC’s spent millions promoting Cox during the past six months and Villaraigosa may have been adversely impacted by a ballot error, which confused L.A. voters who are predominantly Latinos. This particular election was impacted by the Ballot Error; the million$ supplied by well-funded PAC’s not located in CA; and by low Latino GOTV participation. When will the silent non-voting majority realize that by not voting, they are really assisting the REP radical right to elect officials whose purpose and values are simply not progressive nor liberal? The outcome is that a small group (an oligarchy) ends up determining public policy and administrative priorities for this society and its economy. . For Democracy to work as intended, at least 65% of all registered voters need to actually vote. With ‘VOTE BY MAIL BALLOTS’ received three weeks in advance at the voter’s home, a 65% ‘voter participation is possible.

This example reveals why CA’s State Assembly must pass legislation which funds elections and requires all PAC’s to identify themselves when disseminating political advertisements or promotions not controlled nor influenced by the candidate. Such legislation must re-establish the authority and power of “We, The People” to elect any and all public officials. Also, the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling must be reversed because corporations are not persons who speak with their money.

The total of all Santa Clara County’s registered voters was 847,834 as of June 1, 2018. This includes 394,342 Democrats; 154,945 Republicans; and 269,588 citizens who declined to state a political party preference (‘No Party Preference’). Readers are encouraged to go directly to the official data base by googling “Registrar of Voters, County of Santa Clara”, Home Page; click on Election Results icon; a listing of national, state and local jurisdictions presents its data content when one clicks on that category.

For example, by clicking on “Judicial”, the voting data reveal that Judge Persky’s Recall Election was favored by voters (110,556 Yays; 59.80%) and (74,306 Nays; 40.20%)…100% of all precincts counted.  The successor will be Cindy Seeley Hendrickson, esq. (98,842 votes; 68.85%) whose competitor Angelica F, Storey, esq., garnered (44,711 votes; 31.15%). Note that the total votes cast (184,862 = 110,556 + 74306) is 21.8% of all registered voters (847,834)! Those 662,972 registered voters who did not vote were complicit in this recall of a judge who accepted the recommendation of others (Probation officials) and applied the existing rule of law. What needs to happen is to ‘update the existing laws which Judge Persky applied. The #MeToo movement and leaders of this recall would be well advised to apply an equal level of enthusiasm and moral-ethical force to having existing legislation updated. No person should lose his/her job for their performance based on existing practices and standards of “Law and Order”. LET’S UPDATE THOSE LAWS! Many individuals from marginalized communities have experienced what Judge Persky has endured. While mainstream media focused on this recall based its sexual misconduct, the Judge was denied ‘due process’ (Similar to Wisconsin’s Congressman Al Franken’s alleged sexual harassment; He, too was denied ‘due process’).

Let’s now look at the field of five candidates running for the “Office of the Sheriff, County of Santa Clara”. Incumbent Sheriff Laurie Smith must be very concerned about this election cycle. (Have you noted that ‘front page wrap-around advertisement’ published last Sunday (06.03.2018) and the following Monday in the SJ Mercury News? That must have cost a bundle of money!

With all precincts tallied, Sheriff Smith received (78,828 votes; 43.98%) and John Hirakawa (55,702 votes; 31.08%); Joe LeJuenesse, Jose Salcido, and Martin J. Monica received the balance of votes cast (25%). According to CA’s ‘Top-Two’ run-off election rules, Ms. Smith and Mr. Hirakawa will now compete against each other giving registered voters a second chance voting to be tallied on Tuesday, November 6, 2018. It takes 50% plus one vote to be elected during the State Primary Election. Sheriff Smith has served five terms (25 years); is the first woman Sheriff in CA, etc.

I personally listened to a 25-minute presentation Sheriff Smith made to a recent La Raza Roundtable’s monthly meeting. Her presentation contained no data which would have informed the Latino community leaders present; no mention about County Jails having a 3,800 inmates capacity made up with 50% Hispanics; 12% African Americans and 2% Asian Americans (data garnered from a “Realignment Project” report about CA State prison inmates ‘returned’ to the County of Santa Clara jails to relieve severely overcrowded state prisons per Federal Court orders). “How to mitigate ‘mass incarceration practices’ would have been timely, informative, and enabling. After all, it is “We, The People” whose taxes pay for all that goes on in that agency. Those Hispanic leaders present were polite and asked no questions about any significant issues. Ms. Smith missed an opportunity to inform. In our society, ignorance is as powerful a tool as knowledge used to keep a community marginalized.

What is important? The election of representatives who will practice ‘Good Samaritan stewardship which is lacking today. Our community merits the same level of public services produced by the various jurisdictions our taxes support. Each tax-paying resident is a stakeholder (stockholder) in the City of San Jose (a $5.6 billion enterprise) and the County of Santa Clara (a $6.3 billion enterprise). We, The People merit the same level of attention, as do the special interests and corporations. Our governance needs to reach a new equilibrium, which ensures all are adequately served and respected.

If the American Dream is to be re-invigorated that process begins with more than 65% of registered voters speaking up with their vote! ONE VOTER who votes out of five who registered results in ‘strong man’ leaderships like fascism or oligarchies whose members are ‘above the law’. “We, The People” have choices to make and give a voice to by simply voting come Tuesday, November 6, 2018.