It seems that even a tentative and halting nudge in the right direction was too terrifying a plunge for the Democratic Party to do more than flirt with, and crusading hero Antonio Villaraigosa was required to ride to the rescue of the beleaguered people of faith. Well, the Abrahamic monotheists who happen to be virtually entirely Christian sects, but as nobody who is white, elderly, rich, and has a penis is counting I suppose it is a matter of no significance. It is certainly very lucky for America and the causes of freedom and justice that we have such men as Villaraigosa to rescue us from the rapacious influence of the U.S. Constitution.

This does not mean I have only bad things to say about the man of course. His relentless push for the expansion of public transportation is quite laudable. So laudable, in fact, that executives from company that stands to benefit from the project made a five-thousand dollar contribution to Villaraigosa’s campaign. Our fearless crusader is so fervent in his quest to expand mass transit that the route is now projected to be tunneled under a school. None of this is intended to give credence to the popular conspiracy theory, of course, only a certain level of realpolitik.

Take the equally laudable push for cyclist rights our crusading champion spearheaded in 2010. The safety of Los Angeles’ cyclists is certainly a matter of no small import, given that the increasing population density and development is certain to make both the previously mentioned public transit and cycling better options economically, environmentally, and socially. It is somewhat curious, however, that Mr. Villaraigosa’s attention was drawn to the subject in such coincidental chronological proximity to injuries he sustained as the result of a cycling accident.

Please do not understand me to be calling the man’s policies into question, at least exclusively in terms of their apparent intended effects. Neither do I object to his personal qualifications, except insofar as they can be traced back in some respects to cultural roots that are intrinsically problematic when introduced into the machinery of a system of government intended to balance the needs of the many against the rights of the few. In short, I refer to: Latin machismo, the normativity of nepotism in the South American cultural landscape, and the assumption of privilege as a right rather than the result of and balancing response to responsibility.

The full treatment of these issues is a subject for another time, however. I leave it as an exercise for the reader to consider how they could cause problems, and continue to pursue my humbler agenda: Mr. Villaraigosa’s statements regarding the DNC’s party platform. When questioned by the media with regard to their not having heard a clear two-thirds majority, he was quoted by the L.A. Times as saying: “That’s nice to know. I was the chairman and I did, and that was the prerogative of the chair.” Although I am not saying he is necessarily mistaken, this is the sort of thing that would seem related directly to my earlier comments on Mr. Villaraigosa’s cultural milieu.

Not only do we not need the mention of “God” in the political platform of one of the nation’s two majority parties, we do not need and should as educated citizens of a democratic republic be violently opposed to this sort of casual superciliousness in the face of dissent. Villaraigosa was further quoted as saying, “I can tell you this — the president of the United States said, ‘Wow.’ The president said, ‘You showed why you were speaker of the California Assembly,’” Villaraigosa said. “The president, the vice president, Mrs. Obama, all of them acknowledged the decisive way I handled that.”

I freely concede that Mr. Villaraigosa’s handling of the situation was indeed decisive–but I would further stipulate that it was decisive in the worst of the available ways. In a party claiming such diversity and indeed in some measure possessing it, at least relative to their GOP compatriots, one would think it would be only sensible to maintain a neutral starting point that does not presuppose the existence, or at least the vested normativity, of the singular and specific God of the Abrahamic traditions. Yet the DNC’s chairman for that vote acted, in his own words, “decisively” to quash movement–however inadvertent–in that direction.

Bravo, sir. At one stroke you have alienated not only secular humanists and the “prefer not to say” sort of irreligious, but contrived to do so in a way that almost could not have been more precisely calibrated to prod the blissfully well-meaning Christians into a display of defensiveness and a publicly embarrassing and contentious search for consensus. While it is certainly in some sense factual that such consensus was present at the convention, it is considerably less so to say that it was easy to find, or that it exists within the Democratic party as a whole.

The bold decisiveness of Mr. Villaraigosa’s handling of the situation certainly can be said to have manufactured the appearance of consensus in the limited context of the predominantly religious membership of the DNC’s delegation. It remains to be proven, however, that this tenuous and putative consensus represents a genuinely inclusive position. It is perhaps unfortunate that a simple exercise in imagination is sufficient to extirpate the illusion of unanimity or at least rob it of its efficacy, given the reliance on the Democratic Party on the ideals of egalitarianism and teamwork.

If the DNC wants to capture the roughly fifteen percent of the vote represented by the non-religious, the deliberate injection of explicitly religious and moreover explicitly Judeo-Christian language into the official policy platform was at best poorly considered. Not only is it at least dancing on the line of that separation, but it seems poised to at any time step over a vent and blow the DNC’s red-white-and blue skirt up to reveal her cross-emblazoned petticoats. This sort of mawkish pandering is the very worst kind of realpolitik, managing to be both contemptibly ineffective and pointlessly infantilizing at the same time.

The Democratic Party will never accomplish anything if it spends half its time attempting to present itself as a party of variety and egalitarianism and the other half fastidiously and endlessly laboring to smuggle a single narrow-minded opinion about reality that cannot even be agreed on by the virtually innumerable sects who bogglingly join together to shovel time and money with reckless exuberance  into the ill-concealed shoehorning of their religious beliefs into an explicitly secular government which purports to represent the diverse interests of the entire American people, not simply the comfortable normativity of a creeping de facto theocracy.

Isn’t it time the DNC and America stopped laboring under the Sisyphean curse of trying to make the faithful feel that their beliefs belong in government? God can ride on the bus, but not in the driver’s seat. We tried that already.

Sources:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antonio_Villaraigosa#cite_note-cycleadvocate-20

http://www.calwatchdog.com/2012/06/14/infighting-could-derail-federal-transport-bucks-for-l-a/

http://la2b.org/2012/04/17/density-transportation-in-los-angeles/

http://www.theblaze.com/stories/a-lot-of-ado-about-nothing-villaraigosa-defends-god-vote-at-the-dnc/

http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2011/04/20/religion-and-party-affiliation-go-hand-in-hand

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