Editor's Notes - Page 2

These days being progressive isn't about real estate — it's that the level of economic inequality has risen to levels unseen since the late 1920s.

Corruption — even the appearance of corruption — taints the entire public sector and helps the fans of privatization, and progressives especially need to understand that.
5. That the right to private property needs to be tempered by the needs of society. That means you can't just put up a highrise building anywhere you want in San Francisco, of course, but it also means that the rights of tenants to have stable places for themselves and their families to live is more important than the rights of landlords to maximize return on their property. That's why we support strict environmental protections, even when they hurt private interests, and why be believe in rent control, including rent control on vacant property, and eviction protections and restrictions on condo conversions. We think community matters more than wealth, and that poor people have a place in San Francisco too — and if the wealthier classes have to have less so the city can have socioeconomic diversity, that's a small price to pay. We believe that public space belongs to the public and shouldn't be handed over to private interests. We believe that everyone, including homeless people, has the right to use public space.
6. That there are almost no circumstances where the government should do anything in secret.
7. That progressive elected officials should use their resources and political capital to help elect other progressives — and should recognize that sometimes the movement is more important that personal ambitions.

I don't know if Ed Lee fits my definition of a progressive. He hasn't taken a public position on any major issues in 20 years. We won't know until we see his budget plans and learn whether he thinks the city should follow Gavin Newsom's approach of avoiding tax increases and simply cutting services again. We won't know until he decides what to tell the new police chief about enforcing the sit-lie law. We won't know until we see whether he keeps Newsom's staff in place or brings in some senior people with progressive values.
I agree that having an Asian mayor in San Francisco is a very big deal, a historic moment — and as Lee takes over, I will be waiting, and hoping, to be surprised.


Progressives have had ten years to move this agenda.

Why might Tim Redmond be calling to move the same agenda that has been unmovable for that decade?

What might progressives do differently to move this agenda?

None of this is answered in this typically hand wringing piece.


Posted by marcos on Jan. 12, 2011 @ 8:41 am

The bottom line: Every government taxes its citizens so it can perform its mandated functions. Inevitably this entails some redistribution of wealth. It also enforces the rules through the state apparatus. A government that taxes and spends to favor the rich, and enforces laws to favor a privileged class is right-wing. A government that taxes and spends to favor the poor and enforces laws equitably is left-wing, or progressive. Simple indicator: Leftwing policies narrow the income gap; rightwing policies widen it.

In America wealth and privilege have long been very skewed on race and gender. Eliminating those discrepancies, equalizing economic opportunity for all requires including women, GLBT people, and people of color in politics. But as we see with Clarence Thomas, Dianne Feinstein, Condi Rice, Michelle Malkin, Ward Connerly, Theresa Sparks, etc...an individual's color and sex are not a reliable indicator of progressivism. Jim Hightower, Bernie Sanders, Dennis Kucinich are better than the lot of them on these issues. Clarence Thomas' career especially has been based on the fact that he would eagerly rule against civil rights principles in a way that would be clearly racist were a white man doing it.

I don't know enough about Ed Lee to have an opinion on him as Mayor. I am very glad that San Francisco, time and again, has proven itself above racism and sexism in our elections and appointments, but we have reached a point where the flag of inclusion and identity politics can obscure the more basic questions of equalizing economic opportunities and whether our city's taxation policies and services favor the concentration of wealth or amelioration of discrepancies.

Thurgood Marshall said that if a snake bites you it doesn't matter if that snake is black or white. When a fat cat like Willie Brown touts Ed Lee's color as a sign of progressivism, I remember Asians like Nguyen Cao Ky, Michelle Malkin, and Chang Kaichek and have to wonder what else -- if in fact anything -- might qualify him as a progressive.

Posted by Guest Jack Fertig on Jan. 12, 2011 @ 9:05 am