Awesome return of Dr. Raphael “Rafe” Sonenshein, a local Sunset Park resident, to the Rotary Club of Santa Monica. As always, our members look forward to his expert analysis of the political landscape of our times. He did not disappoint! Dr. Sonenshein is the Executive Director of the Pat Brown Institute for Public Affairs at California State University, Los Angeles.
Dr. Sonenshein explained the strategy of the war in the Ukraine and its impact upon the Western world. Small Democracies are fighting for all Western Europe as the hopeful oppressors continue to cut off the oil supplies to these smaller Democracies. He went on to say, if Russia wins this war in the Ukraine, it will have an impact on the World. What happens in the Ukraine will be impacted by what happens in America on November 8th in America.
Turning to the United States, in giving us a lesson in national politics, Dr. Sonenshein says he never makes predictions, but it is a fact that the Speaker of the House in the Congress of the United States does not have to actively serve in the House of Representatives in Washington, DC, but can be a person living at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida.
He says social issues are at the heart of all our politics – the argument is about what issue- because social issues drive our politics. The reason we see national leaders such as Bernie Sanders visiting Los Angeles to support Karen Bass is because Los Angeles is critical and the most important city in America. Dr. Sonenshein says that issues activate voters. Three key issues are crime, women’s reproductive rights and homelessness. The new mayor of Los Angeles, whether it be Rick Caruso or Karen Bass, will have to confront homelessness. In his view the winner of the Mayoral race in LA must present a creditable plan and demonstrate the fortitude to carry out the plan to gain the most voters.
In the Q&;A session Dr. Sonenshein pointed to three issues facing city politics in Los Angeles:
1. City Hall can’t continue to set its own district boundaries.
2. The ethics rules have serious gaps and need to be updated.
3. City Council members have too much power over land use in their assigned district.
To sum it all up he referred to Tom Larmore’s special song of the day:
“Happy Days Are Here Again” He says we can experience happy days again when the voters realize that politicians can’t fix the government.
Thank you, Past President Tom Loo, for hosting Dr. Raphael Sonenshein at our club. Judy Neveau, thanks for the warm welcome to all as we entered the virtual meeting. Kathy Shepard, thanks for delivering your well received invocation. Jennifer Gordon, thanks for introducing and welcoming our visiting Rotarian Tom Johnstone, our District 5280 Assistant District Governor and our Rotaract group from SMC. Past President Tom Larmore, thanks for the patriotic song, pledge, and special song. President Elect Ken Waltzer, thanks for managing our Zoom technology.
Thanks for the warm reception the membership gave to our vacation refreshed immediate Past President and his wife, Bill, and Carol Powell. Nice to have them back at home. Special thanks to Kathy Shepard and her team for the Halloween Party on Saturday evening hosted at David Rosenfeld’s house.