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The name you recognize is the name you blame

My first reaction to Ken Draper's CityWatch piece on the election was, "Are you out of your mind?"

My second reaction was, "Am I out of my mind?"

Ken, who jumped from radio commentary to new media a while back, says Democracy won, because grassroots democracy "also makes the old bunch-of-money, overpower-them, paper-the-city-with-four-color-glossy-flyer-campaigns seem so yesterday."

I said Democracy lost, because the editorial and op-ed town's top two dailies would not even publish the names of the Mayor's rival candidates, let alone invest the rivals with dignity that candidates who amass 45% of the vote certainly deserve.

Could it be possible that both are correct? That the only difference is that Ken sees it as half-full and I, as usual, as half-empty?

We in LA aren't the only ones wondering. California gubenatorial candidates for 2010 did miserably in an early SurveyUSA poll, and have that to contemplate this summer.

With the tweener result of the Los Angeles election, with lots of consolation but perchance one pure victory for the grassroots (we won't know until March 24), political consultants are wondering if Democracy won or lost too.

Regardless of whether Democracy won or lost, I can explain the awful performance of the Mayor in one sentence: We are in one of those down times in which the name you recognize is the name you blame.

That is definitely helpful to grassroots, and harmful to incumbents. And it's probably also harmful to those in media who treat incumbents like lords.

But we can't look to 2010 as an elixir for today. Only old media feel like hanging on to the promise of progressive politics for however long as it takes. The rest of us know: if purported progressives are in office, purported progressives need to fix today today.

Or they will be increasingly blamed for our political malaise, and no amount of media shutting out of alternative points of view will be able to contain the anger.

That's the message for "winners" as far as I can see: you've had enough time. Your Council votes are unanimous and your ability to get things done is at peak wattage. If you don't start fixing things in earnest, your blame quotient will only rise.