Thursday, October 9, 2014

Allen v. Fluke @ Hesse Park

As I had written before, the debate between Allen and Fluke was the least interesting, the least compelling.

No matter how many Republicans endorse Ben Allen, he is still a liberal Democrat.

And then there's Sandra Fluke. What is her claim to fame? Demanding free birth control, and making Rush Limbaugh mad.

Sandra Fluke
Their debate contained some substance, even though the two candidates rehearsed then rehashed the same liberal talking points about equality, getting money out of politics, etc.

Allen talked about his tenure on the Santa Monica School Board, his work in public education.

He mentioned endorsements like Henry Waxman and Richard Riordan, Zev Yaroslavsky and Don Knabe.  Sandra Fluke talked about her work as an organizer in granting everyone a voice in our democracy. With ten years of legislative work, she talked up her support for early childhood education, criminal justice reform, and gender equality. She also talked about her endorsements, including Congresswoman Janice Hahn.

Ben Allen

The first question for the two candidates focused on campaign finance reform. Both of them support public financing of campaigns. Allen mentioned that state senator Leland Yee was getting campaign donations from key groups, then voting on legislation in line with those interests.

"We have to end the money chase, so that we can have a healthy democracy," Allen said.

Sandra Fluke affirmed that campaign finance reform was her number one priority. With all the interests that she had been writing about, one has to wonder what time she can devote to any one issue. Fluke claimed that the state of California should not wait, but it's time for reform.

How would the two candidates promote economic growth?

Fluke supports raising (although, more accurately forcing) the minimum wage. Get more money into the hands of families, so that they spend the money and spur the economy. She also suggested linking high schools with universities for career development for young graduates. Allen talked about the broken infrastructure, including two broke water mains in Los Angeles. He cited the number of times he worked with the Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce, plus his interest to keep the LA Air Force base open in El Segundo as well as major studies in the South Bay, including the firm which filmed Avatar.

The next question dealt with how the candidates would be able to find common ground with people from other political parties.

This question seemed moot, in part because the 26th state senate district is so liberal. A Republican candidate could not get on the ballot because he did not have enough signatures, and the most fiscally conservative, Independent Seth Stodder, finished third place. Do these candidates have to bother reaching out to Republicans and conservative independents? How can they do so without compromising their core, statist values?

Allen talked about his tenure as a student representative on the University of California Board of Regents, mentioning that he worked with individuals who were more conservative than he. He also talked about his work with school board members and local leaders in the state senate district. Right away, Allen communicated nothing. Student activists tend to be some of the most left-leaning individuals available, and they either grow out of those illiberal views when the graduate, or they stay contemplating such radical ideas as academics. One could call California Governor Jerry Brown conservative, compared to the illiberal, Democratic-dominated state legislature, which wanted to spend all the "surplus" revenue, while Brown played the slightly less indulgent parent and pushed for a meager rainy day fund and slight (sleight of hand) pension reforms.

Brown is a hard-core liberal, a progressive who signed into law DLs for illegal immigrants, transgenderism in public school bathrooms, and reneged on a promise to allow local school districts more freedom in how they allocated their funds. "More conservative" means nothing coming from a Santa Monica liberal politician.

Fluke was at a loss. She is one of the more polarizing figures, and her stance on government-funded access to birth control, combined with her combative stance against Rush Limbaugh, revealed her to be a liberal partisan through and through. She complimented herself for standing her ground with Limbaugh, then criticized the divisive nature of today's political discourse. When she mentioned that she grew up in a conservative home, I was surprised. She then talked about how she worked with Republican leaders to pass legislation dealing with conservative values. "Reproductive justice" was one issue. She even talked about her cooperation with Catholic groups.

File:Rush Limbaugh at CPAC (2009).jpg
Rush Limbaugh

Sadly, Fluke's reference to a religious organization does not mean that she worked with individuals with different values. A number of Catholic organization support Big Government interest, like a blanket amnesty as well as government subsidized health care, and a forced minimum wage increase. Frankly, the only reason Fluke is running for office at all is that she is a polarizing liberal scion.

Then came the inevitable question about climate change.

Just like with universal preschool, the minimum wage, and campaign finance reform, the two candidates are true believers in climate change. Both of them received dual endorsements from leading environmental activist groups, including the Sierra Club. Allen talked about the green tech industries which have invested in California because of the tax incentives and subsides. Yet if these companies need government handouts in order to survive in California, they are not viable interests which can turn a profit based on their product and service. The small expansion of green companies is not a good sign at all.

A question about funding preschool and college came up next. Allen talked about the Cradle to Career program in Santa Monica schools. Fluke talked about the efficient use of taxpayer dollars in early education, which would pay off in the long-term as students advanced into higher grades. Allowing children to go to preschool would free up parents to go to work, as well.

Wouldn't it be better for the children to be at home with one parent? What long-term effects do benefit children receiving early pre-school? Conservative critics point out that expanding public education would grant teachers unions more opportunities to recruit teachers and take in dues, which would benefit. . .the Democratic Party. This universal pre-school movement is a politicized attempt to expand the government into another facet of our lives, particularly the crucial development stages of little children.

On fracking, both candidates voiced their opposition. Fluke said she championed a statewide moratorium on the practice. Allen acknowledged that she agreed with Fluke, and added nothing.

The closing remarks gave the two candidates their last chance to distinguish themselves, and differentiate one another. Fluke listed her activist accomplishments, including employee rights and reproductive justice (whatever that means).  She then reminded the audience that her main focus was campaign finance reform and environmental protections. Allen talked about the host of endorsements he had received from civic leaders throughout the district. Unlike Fluke, he was raised in the district. He also talked about his private as well as public sector experience.

This debate was the least engaging of the three. They basically mirrored each others views, which are inimical to a free society and open markets. A number of issues were not addressed in this debate, such as their plans on dealing with the culture of corruption in the California State Senate. Aside from Hadley mentioning that Democratic politicians keep going to jail, what would another senate Democrat provide for the residents of the South Bay? Once again, the more conservative section of Los Angeles County has been disenfranchised with liberal elites more interested in a progressive agenda, than true progress or the state and the district.

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