This Idea I Just Made Up? It's Wrong.

I've said, by the way, all too little about Antonio Villaraigosa's mayoral win, so let me address that by wondering what in God's name Joel Kotkin is talking about:

Last night Antonio Villaraigosa became Los Angeles's first Latino mayor in more than 100 years. In the coming days, his win will no doubt be seized upon by liberals as evidence of a growing alliance between labor and Latinos. This notion has some credence in Los Angeles itself, where Latinos have been growing in demographic strength and politics has moved leftward in recent years. Yet it would be a vast overstatement to ascribe national implications to Villaraigosa's victory. There is little reason to believe that he symbolizes the future of Latino politics at the national level; and even in Los Angeles, the lessons that it is possible to draw from yesterday's election are tempered by the circumstances surrounding this particular race--namely, the incumbent mayor's extreme unpopularity. All of which is to say that Democrats, ever hopeful that Latinos will someday save them from political exile, should not read too much into Villaraigosa's win.

I wish I could write articles like this. "Yesterday, something happened. Without doubt, people will, in coming days, react to it in a certain way, even if they haven't already. They will be wrong to propose this strawman that I just made up. Here's why."

Villaraigosa's win was decidedly post-racial, that was the whole point. The impressive part of his campaign was not that a Latino took the crown, but that he did so while uniting blacks, whites, immigrants, and Jews. So no, I have a feeling you're going to hear very little about Villaraigosa's relevance to the Latino vote because, as Joel well knows, even the most cursory inspection of the election proves that Antonio rode a city-wide wave of revulsion towards the incumbent, there was nothing particularly ethnic nor progressive in his campaign. If Joel wants to write that article, he should have at it (which, to a large extent, he did). But concocting an obviously incorrect electoral interpretation that no one has yet taken, falsely ascribing it to future Democrats, and then beating the stuffing out of your fallacy's flaws is really a dishonest way to go about writing one's election wrap-up.

Folks didn't like Hahn. Turnout was terrible. Of the 10 or 12 people who did turn out, most voted for Antonio. It cut across racial and economic lines. The winner claimed a majority of the mere fraction of registered voters who participated, who are in turn merely a fraction of the city at large. This, my friends, was a mayoral election, and a lackluster, low-energy, underwhelming one at that. It broke no rules, redefined no boundaries, and holds few long-term lessons.

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