This is a story about redistricting, local politics, and a lazy local newspaper.
By now you have probably seen the ads here and elsewhere about what an incredibly dangerous man Elton Gallegly is, particularly since he is the chairman of the House Immigration Committee. An entrenched Republican, Gallegly courts the local Tea Party while stoking anti-immigrant hate wherever he goes.
You may also have heard that Gallegly is in danger of being redistricted out of office. California's redistricting plans are being drawn by citizens. It is bipartisan and the commission has drafted a plan that ends the incessant gerrymandering that allows people like Elton Gallegly to be elected over and over again.
But. There's always a but. This area is a weird blend of hardcore racist types and a younger, more hip demographic. The redistricting plans are actually quite sensible, splitting Simi Valley away from the coastal cities and including them in a district that extends into Los Angeles County. Yes, that Simi Valley, the conservative bedroom community where people who work in the Valley live so they don't have to live in the Valley.
Turns out, Simi Valley folks don't care for this plan. Not only don't they like it, they made their feelings known loudly, clearly, and obnoxiously about a week ago.
David Atkins wrote this for Calitics:
Finally, as to the character of the local Republicans and conservatives, it was clear once again that the GOP has a massive demographic problem. The vast majority of those who gave conservative testimony at the commission were white and over the age of 65, while those on the left-hand side skewed somewhat younger and considerably browner. The refrains included a panoply of coded racial resentments ("culture", "lifestyle" "our interests" and "our heritage" being among them) expressing outrage, as the Ventura County Star's Timm Herdt aptly notes, at being associated with Los Angeles, Oxnard or other dreaded areas where (gasp!) brown people might congregate:
David Atkins is one of the finest progressive activists we have in this county. He makes it his business to actually get out and do something instead of talking about it. And he attended that meeting. Not only did he attend that meeting, he sent out some live tweets about it in real time. As you might imagine, he wasn't shy about calling out the old white Republican demographic for what they were: bigoted, selfish racists. Of course, this is nothing new when it comes to the abuse this commission has been taking from the tea party and its minions.
It's not new, this "not in my backyard" attitude. In 2005 and again in 2008 I stood against an effort to break off the local high school from the Oxnard Union High School District, which was initiated by east county residents in Camarillo who didn't want their kids going to school with the kids whose parents pick the strawberries they had for breakfast that morning. Fortunately, both efforts failed, but I'm certain they'll be revived again.
David Atkins spoke the truth about Republicans in this area. And now he's being hounded and harassed, Breitbart-style. You know that style. It's the one where they attack you and amplify it, hoping that at some point you'll just get so sick of the hounding you'll give up.
David isn't giving up, despite the best efforts of Ventura County Star's Republican
thug blogger's efforts to make him. Of course, this follows the Star putting a story on their front page about the local Democrats distancing themselves from Atkins' remarks. Because in this county, we cannot actually call these xenophobic folks on Social Security and Medicare who always vote for do-nothing thug Republicans the bigots that they are.
But on a larger note, this incident has become about taking a stand. Not just taking a stand against racism, but taking a stand against trollery and Breitbartism. The usual rabid wingnut commenters at the Star have made intimations about calling my company's client list and otherwise harrassing me in my personal life, and are trying to force me out of the Democratic Central Committee to make an example of me and stop me from doing my work here. Ingemunson and his friends and allies have a gameplan--one that they have seen work in the past with ACORN, Van Jones, and Shirley Sherrod: gin up faux outrage, try to get a scalp, and assume that Democrats and the left will panic and "make the problem go away" rather than stand up to the bullies and fight for what's right.
In this case, we're not going to give them the satisfaction. We're going to continue to defend the rights of those who are not traditionally paid attention to in our County, to have their voices heard without fear of intimidation or discrimination. And, outside of the misguided few Lieberman-loving centrists and Proposition 8 supporters who have opposed and tried to poison the well locally against my and my allies' reform efforts from the beginning, most of us are ready to stand and fight for what we know is right.
All politics is local. And this one's in my back yard, and the thugs are attacking someone who is working hard to make this county (and country) better. So yeah, David. You bet we'll get your back. No worries.