The campaign for the mayor of Los Angeles has approximately one dozen candidates. One candidate is the incumbent mayor of Los Angeles, Eric Garcetti. Garcetti is a registered member of the Democratic party and became the mayor of Los Angeles in a nonpartisan election for mayor in 2013. Garcetti’s political platform is close to the political platform of mainstream Democrats. Many of Garcetti’s policies appear to be dedicated to helping the working and middle class of Los Angeles on the economic level. Garcetti had in his first term already raised the minimum wage in Los Angeles and continued attention to workers at the lower-end of the income scale has been a feature of his campaign. Garcetti is also committed to maintaining the close ties that the Los Angeles community has with the entertainment industry as a source of income.
Garcetti continues to propose tax incentives on the city level for corporations and other business entities in the film industry to remain in the Los Angeles area. Garcetti’s campaign has also focused on addressing the homeless problem in Los Angeles. In this sense, the main position of Garcetti’s political platform is to maintain economic stability in Los Angeles through keeping key businesses, but also improving the economic status of those lower on the socio-economic ladder. Garcetti is endorsed by the elite of the Democrat party. Former President of the United States Barrack Obama, for example, has already publicly given his endorsement of Garcetti. Thus, Garcetti is supported by the powerful institutional framework of the mainstream Democratic party.
An exact opposite of Eric Garcetti’s mayoral candidacy is the candidacy of David “Zuma Dogg” Saltsburg. Saltsburg, a non-party affiliated candidate, could be commonly described as a fringe candidate or as even a “joke” candidate, as evidenced, for example, by his nick name. Saltsburg’s platform is characterized by two main points. Firstly, Saltsburg constantly attacks Garcetti on an ad hominen level, referring to him as an absentee mayor who does not even concern himself with Los Angeles. In this respect, Saltsburg’s platform is geared towards those who dislike Garcetti as mayor. Secondly, however, Saltsburg also has a 14-point program of what he intends to implement the first day he is elected mayor. Some of the points of the platform appear to be rhetorical cliches without much explicit content. For example, to paraphrase, what Saltsburg terms putting everyone in the company to work, which could be understood as making sure that all citizens have a job is in a sense a populist phrase without very little actual political substance of how it is to be accomplished. Another point from Saltsburg’s platform, however, appears more concrete, such as eliminating quantitative measurements of effectiveness, which is a radical move. This is almost a type of “new age” policy, because standards would instead be judged by emotional satisfaction as opposed to objective goals that are to be reached in terms of numbers. However, it seems Saltsburg’s program is above all defined by an opposition to Garcetti.
When looking at these two platforms, it is clear what the difference is between an establishment and a non-establishment candidate. The establishment candidate has the advantage of having all the political machinery of existing political parties behind him. Accordingly, the political candidate appears more legitimate. This is the case with Garcetti, who is a traditional candidate. However, as we know from the Trump elections, voters are more and more disgusted with how the traditional political machinery is working. This may not be the case in Los Angeles or in California in general, where Trump clearly lost. However, many citizens clearly oppose the mainstream political machinery and see these institutions as inherently corrupt and only pursuing their own interests.
Clearly, Garcetti tries to combat this image by emphasizing all that he has done and will do for the working class. In contrast, Saltsburg’s platform is largely informed by an ad hominen attack on Garcetti. This is a very similar outside strategy used by Trump. Trump constantly degraded his political opponents with, for example, nick names and ad hominen attacks. Outsider candidates thus do not have a political platform, I would say, that is defined by policy, but more is fueled by a disgust for the existing political class. The emphasis is more on eliminating this ruling political class and is this is why ad hominen attacks against this class can be effective from outsider candidates without strong political platforms, although only to the extent that such a hostile attitude towards the political ruling class already exists in a society. Considering the situation in Los Angeles, this type of anti-institutionalism is not so rampant, so such ad hominen tactics will not be as effective against the more policy based approach of Garcetti, which is already supported by a massive mainstream political machinery.