JOSHUA TREE—Thanks to local musician and Open Mic Night host Teddy Quinn, Joshua Tree has a place to celebrate or mourn election results as a community. Quinn remembers the year the event at the Joshua Tree Saloon became a gathering place to sweat out election results.
“When Gerard first asked me if I would host a Tuesday Open Mic at the Saloon, it was just before the 2008 election. It was the night Obama was elected and it turned into a big celebration where it seemed like most of the town was there. Since the Open Mic falls on every election, including primaries and midterms – We call it Super Groovy Tuesday – we’ve been there for every election since ’08.”
For this election gathering the mood is more tense than celebratory.
No one seems to mind that the Saloon’s TVs are all tuned to election coverage with the sound off. Music fills the packed bar as each act tries their luck at distracting the scattered groups hovering over their laptops and having heated discussions over election strategy and the accuracy of poll numbers. Others just stare at their phones. Every once in a while, a shout of celebration or disappointment rises over the music.
Dawn Davis, 54, was there with a local women’s group, Mission of Menopause, to wait for the results. The group sat in a booth with a huge TV tuned to CNN right above them. Fellow MOM member Tracy Bartlett focused intently on her laptop with several others looking on.
When asked what brought her out tonight, Davis said:
“I was at home alone for the election in 2016. I decided it was better to be with people than alone and crying if things went bad again.”
When asked about California’s long list of propositions, she said the ones addressing housing and rent control got her attention.
“I voted against Prop 10. It would repeal Costa-Hawkins [Rental Control Act] and leave it up to local governments create new rent control laws — but who knows if or when that would actually happen?”
As for many voters, the Congressional election is her main concern. As the initial results started flowing in the direction of a substantial Democratic win, Davis said, “I’m feeling pretty good about the projected winners so far. We need more of a check and balance in Washington.”
Tina MacInnes, 75, retired to this small desert town from England 4-1/2 years ago to be with her children and grandchildren. She said she’s mainly concerned with America’s lack of a universal health care system. She said she tries to stay away from most of the political turmoil but she said she’s concerned about growing racial tensions in the current political climate.
“It’s sad to see racism raising it’s ugly head again. I suppose it’s been there under the surface but there’s a reason it’s getting worse now.”
A local Marine, 23, originally from Cleveland, Tennessee, came out to watch the election with a visiting friend. He said his political views have transformed since he left his small town and went to college in Atlanta. He said his widened perspective not only changed his positions on many issues, it allowed him to be more tolerant of others.
“Getting out of the small town I grew up in allowed me to see people can have different views and still be a good person. We need to educate ourselves on issues and be more rational than reactive.”
The mood was less inclusive in the Coachella Valley. The Desert Sun reported that The East Valley Republican Women Federated refused to allow two of their reporters to enter their election night party in La Quinta to interview Republican candidates and their supporters. The group’s president, Joy Miedecke, told the reporters that they’re “tired of the lies” and accused the paper of printing “false information.”
When asked to be specific, she would only say it happens so frequently she couldn’t give them a single example.
It’s a surprising move considering The Desert Sun seems to have no problem endorsing Republicans if they judge them the better candidate. The Sun endorsed several Republican candidates in this election cycle, including Jeff Stone for the state Senate and Republican Chad Mayes in the state Assembly race (both won).
The Sun reports KESQ, a local television news channel, was not barred from the gathering.
Jeff Gonzalez, the Republican candidate for state Assembly District 56 briefly left the celebration to talk to the Desert Sun reporters. He was quoted as saying that for him Make American Great Again means “We need to make room for healthy disagreement and for solutions.”