Just Another Holiday Party ‘Tis the season for replacing presidents

  • 12/12/2019
  • James Preston Allen

 By James Preston Allen, Publisher


I was standing near the door inside of Kalaveras Mexican bar on the night of the San Pedro Democratic Club’s holiday party and officer election meeting. It was a curious combination of collaboration and conflict over the leadership of the club between Carrie Scoville and Shannon Ross. The not-so-very large bar was mobbed with over 100 members and the cacophony of so many people socializing made it near impossible to hear much even when the underpowered amp and microphone were used.

Clearly the staff of Kalaveras was overwhelmed, perhaps even shocked, as were some members who asked, “Where did all these new members come from?”

While standing out of the fray, a young woman approached me saying she was taking a poll.  I presumed that she was part of the Dems Club when she asked who I was supporting for president.

“Bernie Sanders,” I replied.

“Isn’t he a socialist? And isn’t a socialist next to being a communist?” she asked.

At this point I suddenly realized that the San Pedro Democratic Club holiday party had been invaded. Did a Republican spy or worse, a Trumpster infiltrate the party?

“Are you effing crazy? You don’t even know what you are talking about,” I responded. After using a liberal dose of Anglo-Saxon expletives, she slinked back into the dining room a bit dejected. Perhaps she was really asking an innocent question, but I doubt it. Walking into a room full of progressive Democrats and making a false equivalency statement between socialism and communism is just plain stupid if not ignorant.

Party politics isn’t always polite nor does it have to adhere to a “code of civility” like in a  neighborhood council meeting. But in this new age of hyper-sensitivity in the civic sphere, this might have been grounds for “harassment” but no, this was a lesson in political discourse and definitions. Sorry if I hurt your feelings, but you really weren’t “taking a poll.”

The issue of Sen. Bernie Sanders being a self-ascribed democratic socialist versus a Democratic Party loyalist plays to the heart of the San Pedro Democratic Club contest. Most of these members voted for Sanders last time against Hilary Clinton in the 2016 California primary. As I recall, Sanders with the endorsement of the ILWU, captured some 48 percent of the votes in the Harbor Area precincts.

This came as a shock for the more liberal [meaning moderate], county Democratic party leadership. And it sets the stage for the primary battle for California’s 55 electoral votes in nominating the next candidate to run against Trump.

The challenge is choosing a candidate who can actually defeat #45, a president committed to slandering, abusing and denigrating anyone who runs against him.  So on the Democratic side the sentiment is we’ll vote for anyone but Trump, inside the party there is almost an equivalent “anyone but Sanders” bias with Sen. Elizabeth Warren being a runner up to this.

Yet both Sanders and Warren have moved both the party and the platform to a decidedly more left of center position on universal health care, global warming, clean energy and social justice. These are issues that make the Democratic Party leadership fret over their chances in winning Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Ohio in the general election.

The leadership battle between Scoville and Ross may be more personality driven and yet there is this kind of underlying tug-of-war between moderates and progressive Dems taking place outside of the limelight except at the State Party Convention in Long Beach this past month. The Progressive Caucus had a huge turn out and has a growing membership, of mostly younger Democratic voters yet the Progressives struggled to get many of their items on the state platform. By contrast, the San Pedro Dems Club is hardly young and remains ardently in the progressive camp.

What is an even larger conundrum for the people in greater San Pedro Bay area is that even with a 65-plus percent majority Democratic registration and all of the elected offices represented by Democrats, much of the civic and business affairs are in the hands of those who are much less liberal. The Democratic Clubs, the non-partisan neighborhood councils on the Los Angeles side of the harbor, and the city councils of the surrounding cities remain the last bastion of small “d” democracy in an arena dominated by Republican, corporate influenced chambers of commerce.

This has meant former Republicans like Councilman Joe Buscaino and Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia had to change party affiliations just to become electable over the past decade. But did they really change their political stripes? What we have is a crop of Democrats in name only [or DINOs] who change parties to run for office and show up at local party events masquerading.

Meanwhile, the San Pedro Dems Club’s elevation of Shannon Ross over Carrie Scoville by a 2 to 1 margin may say more about the direction of local politics than might be imagined. But with impeachment proceedings and presidential Democratic debates (the next one is coming to Los Angeles Dec. 19) soaking up all of the attention through the end of the year, the meaning of this local contest may be lost until next year when the local clubs endorse candidates and California chooses a contender to rid us of Trump.  The question is, just how many DINOs will show up to vote?

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James Preston Allen

James Preston Allen is the founding publisher of Random Lengths News. He has been involved in the Los Angeles Harbor Area community for more than 40 years.