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The Mayor's "Race"

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We hope you enjoyed your Cesar Chavez festivities last week, because the timing of the holiday is quite appropriate when it comes to much of the discussion on the Mayor’s race. Chavez’s empowerment of Latinos (what else is “si, se puede”?) awakened both Latino political consciousness and served notice to the mainstream that Latinos were a force to be reckoned with. He became symbolic of the Latino struggle for fairness and acceptance.

In a similar vein, much has been made of Antonio Villaraigosa and his quest to become the first Latino Mayor, and how, reminiscent of his 2001 run, he embodies forces of progressivism that our current Mayor does not. The pro-Villaraigosa, anti-Hahn screeching of LA Weekly comes to mind; in a recent article Harold Meyerson called Villaraigosa a “warrior for labor” and describing his commitment to labor and “LA’s underpaid working class”, even calling it “the cause that animates his being”. Or that Villaraigosa’s being Latino will signal a new age for Latinos in Angeleno politics. It’s our opinion that these opinions are rather misguided in the wider context of LA politics, and that both Villaraigosa’s ethnicity and his progressivism are overrated qualities. This isn’t intended to be a knock on Villaraigosa so much as a caution against pretending that there exists a champion of the working class or minorities in this race.