I know I’m heading up the down escalator after the ball game, but I vote that Kevin De León not resign.
For three out of Los cuatro Fantásticos, it’s moot or practically moot. Ron and Nury have left the building and Gil soon will. (He lost his reelection bid and has until December 12 to find another job.) That leaves Kevin (De León, whom I normally wouldn’t refer to informally, but he’s so thoroughly disgraced himself that I feel a kinship.)
The pitchforks are out, the feeding frenzy has commenced. Let’s say Kevin resigns. Shortly thereafter, in the game of electoral musical chairs, His Vacancy will be replaced. But by whom? Will we, as usual, get a politician who’s a perfect human being, someone whom Kevin has, so embarrassingly, revealed himself not to be? Will we, as usual, get someone who has no biases? Someone who, as usual and when in private, among compadres, doesn’t utter thoughts he or she would never utter in public (unless he or she was named Trump)? Someone who, as usual, doesn’t on some level feel an affinity for one group over another. (But doesn’t being an insider necessarily and automatically create outsiders?) To replace Kevin, will we, as usual, get someone who is just and fair to outsiders, to others, without having to overcome that insider bias that Kevin displayed?
Do you know someone like that? Someone absent bias and flaw? The City Council might soon have an opening. Have him or her apply for the job.
So Kevin resigns. What then? Who takes his place? Because, let’s get real, if it’s someone human, then he or she will arrive, as do we all, with personal ambitions and prejudices; will harbor, as do we all, irrational feelings about race; and will come, as do we all, with other flaws too numerous to list. What then will we the people in general and the people of Kevin’s former district in particular have gained? Will we get in Kevin’s place someone who is actually a better person and council member? Or merely someone who knows better than to have a private conversation outside the cone of silence?
In other words, will we—having singled out, for shunning, one human being, Kevin, who comes with personal ambitions and character flaws and who, as do we all, tolerates and covers for friends and family (who themselves come with personal ambitions and character flaws)—replace him with another human being who comes with personal ambitions and character flaws?
Cui bono? After all the righteous agonizing, all the satisfied, and self-satisfied, speechifying and cancelling, what will we have gained? Will the other members of the suddenly very moral majority on our City Council, each one of whom is there because he or she is free of personal ambition, irrational feelings about race, and other human flaws too numerous to list, finally be able to return to work secure in the knowledge that human failings will no longer corrupt the proceedings?
Over a lifetime in politics, taken as a whole (and papering over the hole he dug for himself), Kevin’s not such a bad guy. He’s got a record of achievement both for his people in particular and for us the people in general. He isn’t corrupt. He has all along done, or tried to do, exactly what he always said he would: represent and fight for an under-represented group of people.
Did he, and the rest of Los cuatro Fantásticos, screw up? Bigly. But does anyone really believe that those kinds of conversations haven’t for millennia gone on in smoke- and now vape-filled rooms, aren’t going on among White, Black, Indigenous—and on and on—bands of politicians somewhere right this very minute? Are we punishing Kevin for getting caught?
Because by that standard, who would survive cancelling? When we drive out someone who got caught being human, are we attempting to purify ourselves? Is this a form of scapegoating? Are we indulging the nearly irresistible, exhilarating, human impulse to kick someone when he’s down? How about, just once, we disband the Democratic circular firing squad? Because with Democrats like us, who needs Republicans?
IMO, people should be punished for what they do, not for who they are. (That way lies fascism.) Having been granted more than my share of second chances, I’m inclined to offer them to others.
Today I heard the first reasonable explanation for the tape leaker having waited a year to leak that tape: One year is the statute of limitations for violating California’s recording law requiring two-party consent. As to who leaked it and how many other reputation-destroying, career-ending tapes remain: Who knows? But I’m thinking that a Netflix series—The LA Tapes—is already being pitched. Make sure both Siri and Alexa are turned off.