By Anna Daniels
Wednesday dawned in City Heights much like every morning here, with the cough and sputter of cars starting, the occasional twitter of birds, a siren shrieking on El Cajon Boulevard. Kids will pass by the house on their way to school.
There is no indication on 45th Street that four billion dollars had been dumped into national and local elections nor that a majority of the electorate– close to 70% in California– had decided to sit this one out.
My neighbors will leave for jobs today that don’t pay enough or provide enough hours to do much more than to live from day to day and week to week. Some of them will end up on the short end of worker’s compensation and disability claims. They have resigned themselves to long bus trips to their jobs in La Jolla and Coronado and to school in SDSU-San Marcos.
For the minority of residents who own their own homes, property taxes are coming due. The holidays inch closer. Many of those who were brought here as children without legal documents are now young adults living in a nether world of indeterminate status.
Four billion dollars were dropped into national and local elections in which the topics of jobs, livable wages, the environment, prison reform, educational opportunities and college debt relief and immigration status were eclipsed by fear mongering over Ebola and Isis terrorists crossing the border. The Democratic party was incapable of playing strong defense and uninterested in playing strong offense and Democrats were handed their asses.
The remedy embraced by the voting public is best summed up in Joni Ernst’s campaign ad about elections and hog castrations. Joni Ernst, one of the fresh new faces of the Republican party, has no intention of governing or compromising or keeping the government open or passing bills. She and a significant number of the Republicans who will join her in Congress are in it for the squeal.
It is misleading to think that California is magically immunized against a Congress in which the lunatics are now running the asylum. The job growth on the highest and very lowest rungs of the income ladder in California fuel the income inequality that is made palpable in the lives of people in City Heights.
So yes, today feels the same as it ever was in this community where resignation and hope are inextricably intertwined. It’s worth keeping in mind that City Heights is a reflection of the demographic future of our country. The challenges facing this community will not be resolved until we thoroughly dispense with the notion that the real America and real Americans live somewhere else and that what City Heights represents is a threat to everything that is good and holy about this country. Today’s election results show that we are no closer to that resolution.
All the Sturm und Drang surrounding the mid-term elections can’t cover up the fear of those who are seeing the moment of their greatness flicker. It’s also an indication that they aren’t going out without a fight. The tension between resignation and hope produces a resilience and thrumming energy in City Heights that provides some assurance that the future won’t necessarily be the same as it ever was. The kids are passing by on their way to school now– laughing, running, jostling each other. Bathed in sunlight, they appear oblivious to anything else.
They represent hope, not a guarantee. In a world with few guarantees, hope can make all the difference.