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Letters to the Editor: Uproar over Rick Caruso indicates a crisis of democracy

Los Angeles mayoral candidate Rick Caruso.
Los Angeles mayoral candidate Rick Caruso fields media questions in February.
(Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)
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To the editor: Columnist Nicholas Goldberg is right that no one should be able to buy an election. But where’s the evidence that this regularly happens? It’s easy to say “look how much money they spent, of course they won,” but as Goldberg himself notes, many wealthy candidates “beat [their] message” into voters’ heads and still lose.

What Goldberg’s piece really points up is a crisis of faith in democracy’s basic premise: an intelligent electorate whose votes are based on its conscious evaluation of candidates’ stated positions and credibility, and not simply on the number of “eyeballs” or “impressions” a candidate racks up via social media or direct mail. Limiting political contributions on the ground that “money is influence” makes some intuitive sense. It’s a much bigger step to limit political spending on the ground that voters are not thinking political actors, but rather lab rats, whose intake of idea-pellets must be restricted for their own good.

If the Information Age really has given us such a brainwashable electorate, should we continue entrusting those weak minds with electing our leaders, but only if their diet of political content is portion-controlled? Or should we just abandon the democratic experiment in favor of an oligarchy of those who can handle being “bombarded” by large helpings of robust political discourse?

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Fortunately, the evidence for “money equals votes equals victory” is not strong enough to justify either step quite yet.

G. Andrew Lundberg, Pacific Palisades

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To the editor: Thanks to Goldberg for his column on candidate Rick Caruso’s record spending this L.A. mayoral election.

Caruso is buying this election, which is unfair and not what a democracy is all about. This country should not and must not be governed by people rich enough to flood the airwaves with their propaganda.

Caruso may be a great guy and an asset to our city, but so far all I hear is what he is going to do, but not how he is going to do it. I don’t think he has an agenda, just a message.

Personally, I want Rep. Karen Bass (D-Los Angeles), who knows how politics work, not another rich person who knows how to run a company. Haven’t we learned our lesson from our former president?

Eileen Martin, North Hollywood

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To the editor: I realize your columnists are not news reporters, but a good number of your news articles as well as your columnists’ takes are critical of Caruso.

It would be nice if you kept a weekly “standings” somewhere in your paper about how many pro and con articles you write about Caruso, versus your apparent favored candidate, Bass. This is pretty much a one-paper town, so the public should be aware of this bias.

Andrew Bressler, Culver City

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