Vote civilized


    New to Malibu? There are two things you should know as we approach the April election for City Council: One political faction has always insisted that “development” is the only issue at hand and historically their actions in attacking, demonizing and anonymously slandering opposing candidates have been exceptionally nasty and merciless.

    Before cityhood, development was the issue. We feared that developers aided by county officials would destroy our small town and its fragile natural surroundings, creating another Miami Beach. With cityhood came the adoption and enforcement of regulations that prevent this from happening. And yet every two years, the notion that the destruction of Malibu is certain if the wrong candidates are elected gets dusted off and heralded as “the only issue.”

    To buy into the “issue,” you must first accept that (1) about half the people in town and the candidates they support must be self-serving dupes who would gladly pillage Malibu in order to make a quick buck and (2) there is only one group that can stand up against The Horde to prevent the destruction of our city and the natural environment. This story of impending doom has been effective in past elections. The myth paints images of heroes and villains and defines its creators as the only choice, giving simple answers to those voters who can’t or won’t take the time to look at the issues. Worst of all, the myth gives to its adherents permission to behave badly, to slander and assail the opposition as if they were mortal enemies. This is war, or so they feel, and any weapon used to protect Malibu against certain destruction by the enemy is fair and necessary. Right?

    It is humorous to think that one group would try to claim sole ownership of the environmental values that an entire community shares. However there is nothing funny about the unconscionable damage done by demonizing and assailing the character of anyone who stands to offer a different opinion. No one seems to rate fair treatment. In a recent election, a kind and honorable resident with decades of selfless dedication to the community was characterized as a developer’s dupe only interested in financial gain. This tactic has discouraged good people from participating in city government while convincing others that the process and everyone involved are dishonorable.

    In reality, these proclaimed “enemies” are our neighbors who in fact feel pretty much the same about protecting and preserving this special place we live. This year, key election issues involve the community — facilities for the young and old, fairness for citizens burdened by changing regulations and whether or not our elected officials can focus on the needs of the community as a whole. But you can count on the usual suspects to tell us that we are all wrong — it’s about development and the enemies in our midst.

    It is time to end this, to stand against the nasties who will do and say anything to trivialize the issues and drag our political process into the gutter. It is time to say, “Stop!” to the ethically challenged and the council candidates they serve. We do not put up with this kind of behavior from our children. We certainly should not tolerate it from adults.

    Don Wilkins