It was often about fighting — against corruption and big-business hegemony and for economic and social equality. The progressive agenda started from the position that city government under Brown and Newsom had been going in the wrong direction and that substantive change was necessary. And sometimes, up against powerful mayors and their well-heeled backers, being polite and accommodating and seeking common ground didn't work.
As outgoing Sup. Daly put it at his final meeting: "I've seen go-along to get along. If you want to do more than that, if you think there's a fundamental problem with the way things are in this world, then go-along to get along doesn't do it." When Chiu announced that the new progressive politics is one of pragmatism, he was making a break from that ideology. He was signaling a different kind of politics. He has urged us to be optimistic about the new year — but we still don't know what the new agenda will look like, how it will be defined, or at what point Chiu and his allies will say they've compromised and reached out enough and are ready to take a strong, even oppositional, stand. We do know the outcome will affect the lives of a lot of San Franciscans. And when the budget decisions start rolling down the pike, the political lines will be drawn fairly clearly. Because reaching across the aisle and working together sounds great in theory — but in practice, there is nothing even resembling a consensus on the board about how the city's most serious problems should be resolved. And there are some ugly battles ahead.