Today is Election Day in Los Angeles. But save for the last-minute barrage of TV ads and scare-tactic mailers, you'd barely know that the city will be heading to the polls to pick its next mayor.
Actually not all that many of us will be heading to the polls. Turnout for the March primary was 28 percent, and the AP says it expects that only about one-third will turnout today (about the same as in 2001).
Yeah, I know all the familiar reasons: Los Angeles is a 450 square-mile city, it's a patchwork of civic authorities, it's spread out, it has no center, etc.
And, sure, all that's true, but it's interesting how Los Angelinos -- while making all those same points -- will invariably use the language of community: "everyone in town knows this or that," "you can't do that in this town," "so and so is well-known in the community."
And the fact is, Los Angeles is a city. We benefit from the collective power that only cities have: freeways, cultural institutions, schools, police, etc.
And yet, no one seems to care that we're about to decide who will be in charge of those things for the next four years.
Interestingly, this same disinterested town was extraordinarily energized during the presidential election. Which makes me wonder if the love of the blockbuster out here has infected the way we see everything. We no longer care about the mid-level anything. The mayor's race is a "small" election. Apparently we're all waiting for the next mega-budget political extravaganza -- coming to a ballot box near you in the fall of 2008.