Time for Progressives to Move On

Written by FCJ Editor. Posted in Opinion, Politics

Published on January 13, 2011 with 7 Comments

By Tommi Avicolli Mecca

January 13, 2011

The drama is over. For now.

Ex-mayor Gavin Newsom, in collusion with ex-mayor/Chron columnist Willie Brown and Chinatown wheeler and dealer Rose Pak, has had his way. Like the petulant child he is, he delayed his swearing in as lieutenant governor and pushed through his temporary successor (City Administrator Ed Lee) and then placed Police Chief George Gascón in a vacant district attorney’s office. Former DA Kamala Harris moved on to Sacramento.

A worst choice there couldn’t be. Gascón is “not philosophically opposed to the death penalty” and campaigned heavily for sit/lie, which now makes it illegal to sit or lie on a sidewalk. Gascón is a bad fit for San Francisco, something the voters will hopefully realize by November when they go to the polls.

San Francisco District Attorney-select George Gascón.

But it’s finished. The Gav is safely installed in a useless state office where hopefully he can do no more harm (unless Lee decides to keep Newsom’s old staff and advisers). And if Brown and Pak have access to Room 200, then the Gav’s bad legacy is likely to live on.

The Board of Supervisors is what is it. No use dwelling on it. There are a few good folks left. Hopefully, they still have the fighting spirit now that the fiery Chris Daly has departed. Hopefully, he’ll follow through with his promise to stay involved in local politics.

There’s work to be done.

The biggest battle to be fought this year is over a new budget. With the city facing a deficit nearing $400 million, the Board and the interim mayor must be made to understand that the poor and working-class cannot bear the brunt of the inevitable cuts.

Start practicing the mantras now: Absolutely no cuts to services for the poor and working-class. Let the rich and the corporations pay their fair share.

The mayor’s proposed budget will be a test of Ed Lee’s commitment to the poor and working-class. By rejecting Newsom’s budget agenda, Lee will  show whether or not the former civil rights and tenants’ activist can be a force for progressive social justice and political independence.

The fight over where to get the money to fill the deficit will show us what the new Board is made of — loyalists to the rich, or fighters for the common folks. I’m not taking bets.

There’s an election in November for a permanent replacement for Lee and Gascón. It’s not too late to be thinking of progressives who can win those seats. A cast of thousands may well run for mayor (many names have already been tossed into the hat). Probably not as many will enter the race for DA.

Finally, there’s the everyday issues that progressives need to be working on, such as displacement and gentrification in working-class neighborhoods (the Bay View and Mission are priorities), the growing disparity between the haves and have-nots, eviction prevention, the rights of tenants in public housing, police abuse and violence, unemployment, foreclosures, homelessness, poverty, etc. The list is endless.

Maybe it’s time for a progressive confab?

Not a talk fest. No speeches by politicians or celebrity activists. No hours of arguing over lists or composing manifestos. A gathering to talk about what needs to be done and how it’s going to be done. A recruitment meeting. A place to sign up to call a board member about the budget or organize a demo against sit/lie.

An action-oriented conference: we came, we signed up, we went out and did the work.


Comments for Time for Progressives to Move On are now closed.

  1. “Moderates are pro-corporate, pro-plutocratic and pro-war”. This type of language shows that too many progressives behave more like right-wing FOX talking heads, in that they love to demonize those that don’t agree with all of their political views.

  2. You write that the the “[t]he biggest battle to be fought this year is over a new budget.” What the biggest battle should be is figuring out a way to solve the pension crisis facing the City. The pension fund is going to be a drag on the general fund indefinitely unless the system is reformed. There won’t be any money for the poor and working class–it’s all being siphoned away to pay for public employee benefits.

  3. @Tommi: What makes you think that an electorate that passed SIT/LIE is going to defeat such an adamant proponent, unless perhaps the electorate go meritocratic on us and insist that San Francisco’s DA should have actually spent some time practicing law before his appointment.

    @Luke: Yes yes to “In the grand scheme of things, San Francisco politics appears to be more about political career advancement and cronyism than anything else.”

    @All: What is this term “moderates” supposed to mean in San Francisco? When I consider the contexts in which it’s used it seems to mean pro-corporate, plutocratic, and pro-war. Maybe the moderate part is supposed to mean, perhaps, supportive of “choice” and LGBT rights?

  4. Maybe moderates are irrelevant, I don’t know for sure and I’m sure as hell not staying awake at night worrying about it. But the progressives have been whining incessantly about the hits they have taken and that’s why I say to my prog friends, “knock it off, you lost, get over it.”

    And if progressives are truly concerned about safe, clean streets (in other words, quality of life issues), I know plenty of moderates who will join hands with you on that. I’m not holding my breath here.

  5. Moderates are just as irrelevant, El Greco. In the grand scheme of things, San Francisco politics appears to be more about political career advancement and cronyism than anything else.

    Is it too much to ask for our elected to just keep the streets clean and safe, to create opportunities for all and not funnel our taxes into the coffers of our electeds’ benefactors and the well-connected?

    Perhaps it’s time for all of us to come together to root out corruption for good, but I’m not holding my breath. As long as we are divided, they will always win.

  6. I have to agree with Tommi. You progressives need to stop your blubbering, acknowledge that you got your asses handed to you, and figure out just how irrelevant you’ve become. Attacking your natural base, unions and nonprofits, as Marc suggests, sounds dandy to this moderate. I don’t know who you will have left when all the brawling is done, though.

    A progressive confab? Go for it. You guys give good bullshit, so why hide it? Oh, and do us moderates a huge favor, make Chris Daly the Michael Steele of SF Progressives. It would be a gift beyond compare.

  7. “Start practicing the mantras now: Absolutely no cuts to services for the poor and working-class. Let the rich and the corporations pay their fair share.”

    It is going to take more than mantras and guitar playing to keep from getting played again.

    It is going to take progressives reclaiming the killer instinct and playing for keeps.

    That means expanding the coalition from the “services for the most needy” minority to one that appeals to an electoral majority.

    So long as progressives focus exclusively on the very poor and nonprofit services, we are going to continue our slide into irrelevance.

    Our opponents have adapted to us, now either we adapt in turn or we face extinction as a consequence of natural selection.

    The greatest impediments to progressive adaptation are the nonprofits and unions because they have the money and power and are easily cooptable by power and have been made to grow comfortable in those positions.

    If the nonprofits and unions don’t dispense with that which no longer works and continue to refuse to identify new strategies to make themselves relevant to a majority electoral coalition, then we’re all toast if we’re not already.