Friday, October 10, 2014

Bobby Shriver for L.A. County Supervisor, 3rd District

Two progressives are running for Los Angeles County Supervisor in the 3rd District -- Sheila Kuehl and Bobby Shriver. As a libertarian, I endorse Shriver.

Both Kuehl and Shriver are longtime Santa Monica residents, as am I. So I have watched their political careers for many years. I have no illusion about Shriver being a libertarian, but he is the more libertarian choice.

A member of the liberal Kennedy family by marriage, Shriver's entry into politics was motivated by a peculiarly libertarian epiphany. In 2003, the City of Santa Monica fined Shriver because his hedges were too high.

Writing for the Santa Monica Daily Press (2/13/14), Jack Neworth recounts this "a-ha moment" in Shriver's past:

"Twenty-year Santa Monica resident Bobby Shriver didn't seek a career in politics, surprising given his late parents were Eunice (JFK's sister) and Sargent (Peace Corps director and vice presidential candidate.)

"Bobby was a Yale-educated attorney, an activist and an entrepreneur. (He also founded organizations that raised millions for The Global Fund to Fight AIDS and Special Olympics, which his mother created in the 1960s.)

"Call it fate or officious bureaucrats, but Shriver's 'path' changed in 2003 when he and 700 other Santa Monica property owners were put on notice by the city. The height of their hedges exceeded city limits and the fines for non-compliance were $25,000 a day! (And you thought our parking meters are a rip-off.)

"The city was so arrogant that Shriver ran for council to change the culture at City Hall. A huge number of residents agreed because that November Bobby received the most votes in Santa Monica history. (An independent in a city polarized between landlords and residents, four years later Shriver again garnered the most votes.)"

I regard Shriver's tenure on the Santa Monica City Council as that of a "sensible liberal." He votes to the left, but he's no ideologue. He seems at least willing to listen to all sides, and with an open mind. Most city councilmembers, in this very blue city, have been, and are, worse.

I think that that "$25,000 a day fine" was a wake-up call for Shriver. A learning experience. He felt the heavy hand of government. Yes, he remains a progressive, with all that that implies. But he at least knows, from experience, that sometimes government goes too far.

By contrast, Sheila Kuehl, a former state senator and assemblymember, is a far-left ideologue. She touts herself as a champion of "middle class families." But what does she mean? Has she lowered the tax burden on middle-class families? Lowered the regulatory burdens on businesses so they can create more jobs? No and no.

Instead Kuehl brags that, during her tenure in Sacramento, she passed a "landmark bill for paid family leave" and "cracked down on age and gender discrimination in the workplace." In other words, she imposed further financial and legal burdens on employers, thus making California a tougher place to run a business and provide jobs.

In previous elections, Kuehl bragged about toughening hate crime laws, using that issue to sell herself as being "tough on crime." (Another one of her "crime-fighter achievements" was tougher laws and penalties against landlords.)

Kuehl also brags that she's "the only candidate endorsed by the L.A. County Democratic Party and our local Firefighters, Nurses, and Teachers."

Yes, she has the support of both the Democratic political machine, and the government employee unions. I guess the unions have contributed generously to Kuehl's campaign, and expect higher salaries, pensions, and benefits as a payoff.

Shriver might support some or all of Kuehl's positions, I don't know. But two key things are obvious: 

* The Democratic Party machine and government union bosses trust Kuehl over Shriver -- Kuehl is the one they bought and paid for.

* At least once in his life, Shriver not only suffered under the heavy hand of government, but actually fought back and won.

Some libertarians will say that the lesser of two evils is evil. But others will observe that we must live under the rule of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, so that it is both practical and morally justifiable to pick the less onerous candidate.

If you fall into the second camp, then I suggest that, though Shriver is no libertarian, he is the lesser evil for Los Angeles County Supervisor, 3rd District.


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