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THE WEEK

Civic pride doesn't require a vote

Cheering for a sports team might say more about community identity than marking a ballot.

June 20, 2010|By Cathleen Decker, Los Angeles Times

Loflin said there was almost no correlation between the traditional measurements of civic involvement and how attached people felt to their hometowns. Voters tend to vote wherever they live, she noted, and involvement can just as easily be driven by anger as by contentment.

"Some people get involved because they are unhappy with the place," she said.

The week before last, California once again spurned an election. Only three in 10 California voters bothered to cast ballots — barely two in 10 in Los Angeles County. The temptation was to take that as a measure of utter indifference. But it may make more sense, Guerra said, for people to demonstrate their connections by cheering for a team than by voting.

"The Dodgers are doing well, the Lakers doing well, the local universities in different sports … all of that helps to distract you from the recession, distract you from the mundaneness of everyday work or not having a job," he said. And politics?

"Increasingly, voting is not about shared experiences but about divisiveness, about differences, about wedge issues that divide us instead of unite us," he said. "In politics, it is fear rather than hope that drives elections and campaigns. Whereas in sports, it's always about hope and anticipation."

cathleen.decker@latimes.com

Each Sunday, The Week examines implications of major stories. It is archived at latimes.com/theweek.

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