The practice of politics

It isn't just about issues and ideology; it's about the way we fight

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Supporters of Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi sometimes cross an important line during his Oct. 9 removal proceedings.
PHOTO BY LUKE THOMAS

steve@sfbg.com

ESSAY San Francisco's progressive movement needs restoration and renewal. Our focus on immediate fights and indignities has blurred our perspective on the larger, longer struggle for a more just, sustainable, and inclusive society. It's time to regain that vision by taking a new path and practicing a different kind of politics.

Back-to-back local scandals involving progressive male politicians treating women badly have spawned waves of ugly reactions and recriminations on all sides. Those frustrations have bubbled up against an overwhelming tidal wave of money from wealthy individuals and corporations used to deceive and divide the voting public on the local and national levels.

Real concerns about domestic violence have been reduced to an election-year weapon, cheapening an important issue. Stubborn injustices like lack of gender equity in pay and promotions and access to contraception have been countered with mythical "binders full of women," a new take on the old dodge of personal responsibility. Unacceptable groping or grabbing is alternatively denied, dismissed, or blamed on the women. Little has changed except the modern polish on our dated pronouncements.

The turbulence of this political year has tested our tolerance and we've lost our balance, if not our minds from time to time. But we can learn from our mistakes. San Franciscans should be leading the way forward, not just with our gadgets and technological innovations, but with the example we set in how we practice our politics.

Perhaps I'm not the best one to call out my comrades and propose our next steps. I'm a single, straight man, and I've fought as fiercely as anyone on behalf of the Guardian's progressive values and worldview, sometimes resorting to the same nastiness that we've seen bubbling over this year.

But as I've covered this year's high-profile political scandals involving Ross Mirkarimi and Julian Davis for the Guardian — and read the vitriolic comments reacting to my stories and expressed in public forums — it has caused me to rethink my own approach and that of the progressive movement. So I want to offer my insights, make amends, and contribute to the dialogue that our community desperately needs to have.

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Let me start by saying that I understand why people perceive political conspiracies against Mirkarimi, Davis, and other progressive politicians in San Francisco. Wealthy interests really do have a disproportionate influence over the decisions that are shaping this city's future, to the detriment of the working and creative classes.

A small group of powerful people installed Ed Lee as mayor using calculated deceptions, and he has largely been carrying out their agenda ever since, practicing dirty politics that have fractured and debilitated the progressive movement. In this election cycle, we saw the willingness of Lee's deep-pocketed benefactors, such as right-wing billionaire Ron Conway, to shatter previous spending records to achieve their unapologetically stated goal of destroying San Francisco's progressive movement.

But if we want to replace economic values with human values — emphasizing people's needs over property and profits, which is the heart of progressivism — we can't forget our humanity in that struggle. Choosing conflict and the politics of division plays into the hands of those who seek to divide and conquer us. We need to embody the change we want to see and build new systems to replace our ailing political and economic models.

When Mayor Lee decided in March to suspend Sheriff Mirkarimi without pay and without any investigation — and by the way, showing no interest in hearing from the alleged victim, Eliana Lopez — progressives had good reason to be outraged. Domestic violence advocates and the Chronicle's editorial writers may not see it this way, but I understand why it seemed politically motivated.

Comments

Beverly Upton's organization gets funding via decisions made by the Mayor's office. And the domestic violence workers and groups which took part in this cynical political game (based on those funding ties) deeply wounded the cause of reducing domestic violence by adopting a 20th century style reactionary response that will cause other families facing conflict to hide in the shadows instead of reaching out for help and counseling; this for fear that if they do reach out, law enforcement might over-react and a breadwinner in the family may be arrested and/or lose his or her job. And in the case of such a family in which undocumented citizens are members, they will fear even worse consequences.

So, this stuff is not simply a disagreement in perspectives, and we can't just all be friends for the sake of progressive political gains, in the face of such disturbing acts by so called 'allies'.

Perhaps if Ms. Upton and her compatriots in this travesty would look into the mirror and admit to themselves, and then to us, (including progressives in the domestic violence community) that they have just made an extremely grave and harmful error, this would be a first step toward building a bridge. But what I am seeing in the papers and in campaign ads, is that they are only deepening their complicity in Mayor Lee's outrageous continued attempts to torpedo and divide progressives by relentlessly attacking the Sheriff.

That has to stop immediately if there is to be any bridge building.

Posted by Eric Brooks on Nov. 07, 2012 @ 3:13 am

I agree that these specific particular so called proponents of the DV movement are a fraud they NEVER made any point or EVER spoke on a victims behalf or on behalf o0f the important ISSUE only on behalf of Ed Lee or Ron Conway in reality as hired proponents under their largesse WHERE did they ever speak for Eliana when she was the one they were SUPPOSEDLY acting for ....

Posted by thatsthewayitis on Nov. 08, 2012 @ 10:35 am

"Now is the time to organize and expand our movement, to reach out to communities of color and the younger generations."

I find this line incredibly ironic as the Guardian has been active in sinking the very people who do this-often supporting Dem party hacks and killing the Greens. You spent so much time attacking Jane and Christina in the last few years, it really made you think you despise women of color. I agree with your disdain on the Twitter vote but Jane was also the true hero of the last budget cycle, better than Daly and Avalos, but she'll never get that credit.

You had the opportunity to really support another forward thinking woman of color, Kim Garcia Meza but you supported Matt Haney, who I give two hours before going moderate. I mean, he's buddies with Newsome. Hope I'm wrong, but, two words: Rachel Norton. Again, no endorsements and coming in 5th...why? people power!

Warriors do not care about their own self-serving agendas they have years of community work, years of involvement of selfless struggle, and they listen more than talk. I'm sure Ghandi wasn't pure testosterone who leaves you weird messages at 2am in the morning, or has told community people "to fuck off." I'm glad you have sort of acknowledged this...but...

A lot of folk just don't trust the Guardian anymore, and rebuilding that trust, particularly with communities of color, like the Latino and Asian communities, when you have not endorsed the leadership...will take time.

Also, I supported Mirkarimi, but being out there in D5....we lost the moral imperative as progressives (as one friend said). We really lost ground and get ready for more attacks to our power.

My suggestion is a progressive convening but do it with a diverse group of folks especially since your warriors have bullied the rest of us. How about calling up teachers for social justice as much as you do UESF? How about reaching out to the folks at the CRN, immigrant rights, and SF Rising as much as you do insiders? You want movement, go to movement people.

Posted by Movement on Nov. 07, 2012 @ 7:52 am

SFRising ARE political insiders, many of whom don't live in SF.

SFRising are the nonprofits who've led us to this point of failure and who are now playing the divisive race card and playing it to the right because they know that they're unable to gain traction within their communities with their interpretation of a progressive agenda.

SFRising is playing an "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em" game that has no place for white progressives, no place for queers and presupposes political orientation based on income and is not for me.

How can progressives reach out to San Francisco's communities of color when the mediators at SFRising eschew progressives, eschew white people, eschew queers and by and large collect a paycheck here and return home to Oakland at night?

But as far as the SFBG phoning it in by only contacting the same tired activists who parrot the same narrow predictable agendas, yeah.

How about only sourcing pieces from folks who live in SF and are not paid to do politics for a living and are thus less likely to be ethically compromised?

Posted by marcos on Nov. 07, 2012 @ 5:36 pm

Marc, this is flat out bullshit that could only come from a guy like you who has bitterly sat out for the past number of years.

To be clear: SFRising is by far, the best thing that is happening for progressives in SF right now. The activist groups that make up SF Rising: POWER, Filipino Community Center, CJJC, Coleman Action Fund, Chinese Progressive Association, PODER have meanginful connections with the communities that they do work with on a daily basis. Almost none of these people are 'paid to be involved in politics' or have very much involvement with city hall for their jobs, despite what you say here.

Furthermore, I have never worked with any group that is better organized and reliable, meaning:

* They will tell me that x number of people will be showing up, give me their names and that exact amount of people will show up.

* They will actually do the entire amount of work that they committed to doing without wasting time sitting around in the campaign office, gossiping etc.

* They will then regroup and do very extensive debriefs about what was successful and what could be improved and give that information back to the campaign.

* They brought incredibly positive energy whenever they were around and were able to give feedback, fill in and make improvements without being overbearing or unreasonable.

Watching SF Rising develop and grow between the mayor's race last year and the Supe's races this year has been impressive. You wouldn't know any of this because you spend all of your time posting antiquated stuff on the internet instead of being involved.

Posted by Nate Miller on Nov. 13, 2012 @ 12:36 pm

Nate, shuffling the same low cards and pretending they are a different, better hand does not make it so.

By the time the nonprofits make any headway on their newly found project of "deep organizing" at the rate that they are going, the communities they would organize will be long gone.

Given that their claimed constituency amounts to 30% of voters and given their lack of inclusion (to put it nicely) tempered with seething contempt for the rest of the progressive/liberal coalition, I'm not seeing how the math works.

That SF Rising actually had the gonads to ask John Rizzo why he was running as a white guy against candidates of color in D5 seals the deal for me.

SF Rising should call itself SF Oppressed, except that most folks don't feel oppressed, exploited or "most vulnerable" as the patronizing activists would have them feel.

What we've got going on here with SF Rising is a smaller, more shrill, less diverse, more prejudiced and less progressive SFPO.

If the nonprofity types could have made headway against corporate power, you'd have thought they might have racked up some hints of progress.

Try something new that is not yet another amalgamation of nonprofity types and maybe it might be worth my time to participate, otherwise y'all are just yanking my chain.

Posted by marcos on Nov. 13, 2012 @ 12:58 pm

It's inescapable to see that sort of chauvinistic thinking as something which is being promoted for the exact purpose that it serves; just as the attack on Ross Mirkarimi, to divide the progressive community.

We have to learn to spot it right away when negative impulses latent within our sub-constituencies are being fostered and triggered by those who only pretend to share our bottom-line goals. True inclusiveness does not require that we forget about the histories and specific concerns of individual groups such as minorities, gays, women, workers and environmentalists; it does require that we stifle our predilections to manifest our awareness of those concerns in destructive ways in the context of interactions that should be positive overall.

Remember the golden rule: "do unto others as we would have them do unto you"; corollary is that if you can't think of something nice to say, you've got nothing worth contributing.

Posted by lillipublicans on Nov. 13, 2012 @ 1:28 pm

My first hand source indicates that SFRising asked Rizzo why he'd even consider running when there were candidates of color on the ballot.

The SFRising nonprofits barely conceal their contempt for LGB and/or white folks in The Mission. Given the imperative of the left to cleave to the least popular groups, there is a space for trans folks in their coalition, probably prone and not around the kids.

This is par for the course in poverty nonprofits, when was the last time that Calvin Welch came to the Milk Club, for example?

The prejudices here are that all LGB are by definition white professional double income no kids conservative yuppies who hate people of color and poor folks and that all white folks are by definition racist and economically better off than POC.

Most of SF Rising gets city funding, and we've seen how public and corporate funding coopts and corrupts popular resistance.

None of these groups are particularly democratic, it is just the same Oakland activists BARTing their way into our communities which have been given over to luxury condo developers on their watch.

In any sane, anti-racist, anti-classist world, they'd stopped in the tube at the bottom of the bay and sent back east so that the communities they purport to represent could have space to self-organize.

Posted by marcos on Nov. 13, 2012 @ 1:49 pm

Nate, one more thing. I practically squeezed my software skillset dry over the past decade contributing for free, donating more than I got out to the progressive political project and you have the fucking nerve to tell me that I'm taking more than I give after you get paid in campaign after campaign to lose more than you win. When I get a good job after wasting my donated time on politics, the last thing I'm going to do is to forgo income to throw good money and time after bad. You whine that I did nothing this last election cycle when I contributed good cash money to Eric Mar that paid your goddamn salary even though he abandoned the progressive position on more issues than he supported. What the fuck more do you want?

Here's the basic math: When I was active in campaigns, we won more than we lost, since you've become involved in campaigns, we've lost more than we've won. You are not credible when discussing how to win contested open seat campaigns.

You're fucking a coalition into obscurity when you diminish the volunteer and cash contributions of "political civilian" San Franciscans in electoral campaigns because we do not bow down to your version of political correctness bound together with the duct tape and baling wire of race, queer and economic status prejudice, a package which has been resoundingly rejected by the voters.

Then there is the ageism problem, that you all would prefer a "younger go-getter" to work on your campaigns instead of a middle aged homo like myself. Truth be told, the only way that progressive campaigns have taken an open seat in a contested election was to have four middle aged males on the campaign team, four males who have been mostly divided from one another and driven from politics by the professional progressives One native left the country and is now happy after being screwed in Jane Kim and Randy Shaw. Another became Jeff Adachi's turdblossom. The other abandoned the political game for a nonpolitical staff position after being abused one time too many. And I'm disgusted at the entire process. Progressives cannot win without that brain trust and you all pissed on it and pissed it away.

Why do progressives hate more than half of the electorate?

After donating a decade of my life to this failed experiment, I've still got 8 years left to haunt your sorry asses until you get with the program and adopt a majoritarian political posture capable of speaking to a majority of unrich San Franciscans on issues that face them daily, not issues that fascinate you, so that we can actually win elections.

If that involves harassing prominent members of the professional progressive establishment for the next few years, well, that sure beats accepting the neoliberal framing of the Lee/Brown/Pak administration of "people of color" and their corrupt agenda, and nibbling around the edges as is the end game for professional progressives right bow.

Fuck you Nate Miller.

Posted by marcos on Nov. 16, 2012 @ 8:11 am

because you seem to prioritize making things up instead of evaluating what is happening. I'm not going to respond to every point because it is a waste of time, but since this is all in the public, I think that people deserve to know the truth about at least a few things.

First of all, a good half of the leaders of SF Rising are gay. Your claim that they don't value LGBTQ issues is erroneous and has no basis in anything. I don't buy what you say about their meeting with Rizzo. They are an organization that seeks to involve traditionally disenfranchised communities by ' building the political power of poor and working class communities of color in San Francisco.' This is not very different than the women's political committee who are 'committed to elevating women into positions of leadership including elected office, boards, commissions and management positions.' I don't view such groups as in opposition to my interests, but from your posts it appears that you do.

Anyhow, in regards to the Mar campaign...SF Rising was part of a larger campaign that did connect with much more than 'half of the electorate.' Trashing them for having 'seething contempt' for the rest of the progressive coalition is just completely off base. Its a lie. Furthermore, your statements are bizarre because you vacillate between accusing progressives of focusing too much on the 'oppression olympics' or the '30%' and then when we branch out to work with a larger tent we are selling away the city. Which one is it, Marc?

In terms of math: I am not clear what campaigns you were involved with, but I find it consistent with your personality that you think that your participation was the deciding factor in winning. I have received a very small amount of compensation to work on Avalos' 1st and 2nd Supervisor campaigns, the Avalos for Mayor Campaign and Eric Mar's re-election campaign. If you can do basic math, that would indicate a record of 75% success. Regardless of that, I am aware that my small contribution was part of a much larger group and that winning depended on our collective efforts, along with a number of factors including political dynamics... not just me.

Perhaps you blame me and all of the other volunteer leaders for loosing the sit/lie campaign, where we were outspent by something crazy like a 2/3rds of a million dollars to $7,000. Perhaps if Marc Solomon had been there instead of Nate Miller we would have won. But I kind of doubt that. And you weren't there. And no one stopped you from being there.

In terms of 4 middle aged guys being the only ones to win a contested election with an open seat, perhaps you have amnesia. In 2008, Chiu, Campos, Mar and Avalos all won contested elections and many of the people who were leading the campaigns were women of color and people of all ages. In your mind though, the only winning campaign formula is cloning 3 more versions of yourself.

Re Agism: You continue to bring this up, despite it having no basis in reality. I can go into depth about why no one wanted to hire you to be the Data guy for Avalos, but I would prefer to spare you publicly. It has already been explained to you a number of times but if you want another one, shoot me an e-mail at theinternate@gmail.com

Non Profits: You constantly talk shit about me and others for working for non-profits as if we are getting rich and being lazy. I refute this. The work that many of the people that you hate on do is hard and underpaid. From personal experience, last year I left a non-profit job at the mission neighborhood resource center that I was at for 2.5 years. I graduated college, have good work experience and could have made more money and had an easier job but I did and continue to care about homeless people. I got paid $13 bucks an hour to show up at 7am and work as the first point of entry for as many as 500 people a day who were suffering, who needed things that I wasn't able to provide them, who were seriously being squeezed. I would expect attacks on workers like me coming from Nevius but not someone who sees himself as the soothsayer of progressives.

Feeling entitled: While you have the right to free speech, whatever anyone did for however many years doesn't earn them a pass to make up lies about people on the internet, be an asshole and carelessly cut and paste the same tired stuff day after day. The sad part is that you have deep knowledge of the city's history and a lot of valuable skills but you choose to squander them by just tearing people down. Im done talking to you on the internet because you just have so much more time to do it than me. I've gotta go get ready to go out dancing.

Haunting me: You may think that you are haunting people, but usually that requires being dead. Perhaps the ghost of Arthur Evans is haunting you by implanting his tactics into your mouth, but I don't think most people are tripping off of what you are saying. You certainly aren't haunting me, although I am confident that you will spend at least another 8 years mildly annoying many of us.

Posted by Nate Miller on Nov. 16, 2012 @ 8:12 pm

There are no progressive LGBT leaders as there are hardly any LGBT who follow these self promoters and nonprofit workers who posit themselves as such. There is no appeal to LGBT in any of the SFRAF literature, nor is there an appeal to white progressives. Those two omissions leave a coalition hobbled, and there is too much prejudice against queers and white progressives who have not accepted and internalized the failed progressive framing of politics.

After 30 years of experience with identity politics and after seeing progressive and even liberal fortunes decline as a result, it is time to put identity politics to bed because it successfully eclipses the only politics that matters as capital is on the rampage--class politics.

The entire point of identity politics was that groups are not homogeneous, that one could not ascribe politics based on identity. The failure now is that in a San Francisco that the progressives could not stop from gentrifying, the political coherence of identity amongst the identity groups is rapidly diminishing.

But the SFRAF is trying to flog that dead horse even though the numbers, electoral and demographic, indicate that even under the best scenario, that approach will not mobilize sufficient voters to change politics, especially when it is not inclusive of white progressives and queers.

You are not correct in your assessment of the previous two supervisoral elections. 3 of the 4 middle aged prescients were present in the D11 and D1 races in 2008 as well as D6 in 2010, those were open seat data points in the positive. It was the neoliberal turn in D6 that sent the lone native San Franciscan prescient out of the country for a better life where he is apparently happier than ever.

It has yet to be proven that progressives can take an open seat without one of the prescients, D5 is the first data point in the negative. Reelecting incumbents is less difficult than taking an open seat.

The fact that Sit/Lie was even on the ballot is indicative of a movement that has lost its will to fight, the killer instinct, refuses to articulate a proactive agenda that magnetizes San Franciscans and always plays on the defensive and is framed terms dictated by our opponents that are favorable to them and deadly for us.

Whether this is because the professional progressives hold most San Franciscans in contempt and do not trust us to support their priorities, as one would divine from the narrow focus of the SFRAF relative to the voting base, or whether this is because corruption dictates that the funding will get cut off if progressives "struggle" against their restraints is unknown. But progressives are thoroughly house trained, one might call them the house slaves who lavish their advantages over the field slaves and who resisted emancipation due to the likely downsides for them.

Had progressives articulated a proactive agenda that put corporate power on the defensive, then the political dynamic would be different and even if they'd put Sit/Lie, Aggressive panhandling, Care Not Cash or whatever wedge issue they always throw at us, there would have been two measures that would wedge in the other direction to draw their fire.

Where are the common sense, broadly supported ballot measures that chart a course to a progressive vision of San Francisco and which give corporate power coronaries or at least drains their bank accounts?

The fact is that nobody wants to be a part of a political movement that has no place for them, that has no will to fight much less go for the kill, and which is relegated to flapping in the wind at the mercy of its corporate opponents and is easily satiated with a few crumbs thrown the way of a complacent nonprofit or a disarmed union.

Remember when Chris Daly mentioned "haunting" David Chiu? I guess only some white guys are allowed to haunt. Arthur Evans took money from the conservatives to attack progressives. I take no money from conservatives for anything. The comparison does not hold. When people suck down my contributions over a period of time and all I get is lost elections and my agenda trampled, well, fuck that shit.

You all had your chance to avail yourselves of my skill set but the systemic prejudice amongst the professional progressives would not let that happen. There are too many vested financial interests in place between the professional progressives and corporate power, not dissimilar to how Arthur Evans was alienated and coopted, that no individual without resources or organizing skill can counter. The professional progressives have made their bed and now they're lying about it.

The absence of runoffs ensures that the professional progressives will continue to put their immediate cash flow interests before those of a viable majoritarian governing coalition. And it will not matter, as they will still get paid irrespective of outcomes which will not stop being bad outcomes. But as their political power wanes and the City continues to gentrify, the game of musical chairs on the deck of the Titanic will continue and slowly they will all fall victims to budget cuts as neoliberalism trudges on.

Progressivism in San Francisco is almost dead because it has negotiated its demise with corporate power. It needs to be replaced with an inclusive coalition that posits all unrich San Franciscans of all income levels, ethnicities, sexual and gender inclinations and comfort zones against corporate power and buys them into a coalition on their terms that are shared with others.

Anything short of that will fail because the math of a changing electorate is not behind it. And I don't think that the SFRAF has a problem with any of this as their response to gentrification and corporate power is one of accommodation not resistance.

Posted by marcos on Nov. 20, 2012 @ 9:57 am

...for progressive movements. You may disagree with him about SF Rising, but no one can accuse Marc of sitting on his behind. The campaigns of elected officials considered "progressive" often rely on unpaid volunteers for a lot of heavy lifting and shoe leather. I, too, know this from experience.

Posted by Erika McDonald on Nov. 16, 2012 @ 11:51 am

Supporting a Domestic Violence Abuser for Sheriff and Attacking Advocates of Victims was the BIG FAIL and derailment for Progressives!

Mirkarimi effed up and effed up progressive credibility with one effed up bruise he gave his wife, he should NOT be Sheriff and Progs should NOT support him.

Now, you write an essay on how you contributed to this effed up clusterpuck?! You missed the boat and with all the non-Abusers you guys threw under the bus, the bus is out of commission. All this poop for a jackhat that abuses his wife? Really?!!

Posted by Guest on Nov. 07, 2012 @ 10:06 am

Thank you for this essay. After 20 years in SF, I have lost my connection to the current Progressive leaders and process. I look forward to the rebuilding.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 07, 2012 @ 10:54 am

Steven, individuals have been in positions of power within the progressive coalition for some time now and under their watch we've lost more and more.

Either we hold those people accountable and hurt their fragile feelings in so doing or we continue down this path of failure.

These folks have been paid to practice politics for a decade now and don't seem to be learning much from that practice.

How much more time will they need and what will be the consequences of us waiting for them to learn, course correct and get it right?

If the SFBG is not going to be doing any sort of introspection for its role in leading us to this impasse, then the SFBG is in no position to call for any sort of assessment.

Posted by marcos on Nov. 07, 2012 @ 11:40 am

Marc, I think you're a smart guy and I recognize that you've been calling for a fresh approach and better political organizing for awhile now. But I don't think your aggressive and judgmental approach is helpful to rebuilding this movement. If we're going to broaden and strengthen this movement, it's going to start from a place of tolerance and patience. Yes, we can and should critique what we're doing, but there's a way to do that which isn't quite so abrasive and alienating. Personally, I welcome the participation of Oakland residents, those who have found ways to make a living as activists, and organizations focused on communities of color that I'm not a part of us. Now is the moment to start building our local capacity, and we need as much help and input as we can get.

Posted by steven on Nov. 07, 2012 @ 5:53 pm

Steven, either there are consequences for leading a political movement off of a cliff or there are not. If there are not, we can count on no change in conduct except for further moves towards accommodation on our opponents terms.

We need to have some necessary conversations as to how we got into this mess if we expect to figure out how to build a coalition that can contest corporate power.

There is a massive disconnect between the progressive infrastructure and San Franciscans. Either that disconnect gets reconciled or we end up with more of the same.

This will only be painful for those who exist in that gray area between getting paid to do work and not being held accountable when they don't deliver on what they're paid to do.

We need to figure out what we're doing that connects with San Franciscans and do more of that and figure out what we're doing that does not connect with San Franciscans and stop doing that.

Popular sovereignty means that political power vests in the voters, citizens and residents of a place, not in the hands of professionals who commute into a jurisdiction to get paid to do politics, in this case, poorly.

Our opponents have successfully adopted cooptation strategies that have handicapped the movement. Either we adapt in turn to undo that cooptation, that will be painful to the coopted, or we continue to suffer the penalties of cooption.

Yeah it sucks but it is true.

Posted by marcos on Nov. 07, 2012 @ 6:23 pm

embrace the hard left policies that a very small but noisy minority of people here want. At some point progressives need to move to the center to gain relevance, in much the same way as Republicans now need to.

Obama would have lost this week had he been more "progressive" than he was. He too understand the need to moderate.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 08, 2012 @ 7:43 am

Obama would have lost just like every other president running on a high unemployment rate had his opponents not been viewed as batshit crazy racist, cold hearted misogynists.

The election was a referendum on Romney and the Republicans not on Obama's record.

Posted by marcos on Nov. 08, 2012 @ 8:49 am

Not necessarily so, Marcos. I think Obama successfully "framed" the debate, correctly in my view, that he didn't cause the mess we're in, and that some things just take longer to heal. Good for him for making that plain to the American public. He stood for certain values. And energized his base where it counted (swing states). And he's a nice guy...That counts for something. Moral force stands for something and is its own power—I don't care how "batshit crazy" you feel the other side might've been....

It's like the parable the tortoise and the hare...I think the American people just "got" the message contained in that fable—as metaphor for the way things sometimes are, and as Obama clearly laid out.

Posted by Daniele E. on Nov. 12, 2012 @ 7:31 pm

I think that the downticket races were much more instructive as to the contours of the political terrain on election day than the presidential race.

By the numbers, Obama has done 10 things to bolster the Bush II legacy for every 1 he's done to help the middle class and poor. There is no sustainable economic recovery because Obama's not altered any of the fundamentals. This is why the Democrat message was 10 parts the Republicans are batshit crazy, especially as pertains to women, to 1 part Obama inherited a mess and is slowly making things better.

Obama refused to stand behind Elizabeth Warren to head the consumer financial agency so instead of getting mad, she got even and ran against not only against the Tea Party and their misogynist fellow travelers but by implication, Obama's intransigence on helping working Americans while rewarding Wall Street, as well.

Posted by marcos on Nov. 12, 2012 @ 7:52 pm

The President cannot force the Senate to do anything. Republicans threatened to filibuster her nomination if he made it. Instead she got the last laugh because now she's IN the Senate. So it's hard to understand how Obama is to blame for Republican intransigence on this issue.

Posted by Troll II on Nov. 12, 2012 @ 8:06 pm

And the millionaire/billionaire Dems in Congress love it too.

In fact, just look at how effective Republicans have been in threatening fillibusters while they've been in the minority vs. how the Dems did in that respect between 2002 and 2008.

The Democrats should change the Senate rules back to the way they used to be where to have a fillibuster you actually had to keep someone on the floor talking.

You can use Repug bat shit eating as an excuse only up to a point and that point does not include Obama's weak assed performance with regard to Elizabeth Warren. Remember: he had the American people *firmly* at his back on that -- just as with "public option" for heathcare -- and he flubbed it big time.

Posted by lillipublicans on Nov. 12, 2012 @ 8:45 pm

You don't support Obama, you've been clear about that. Worrying about pleasing purity progressives like you is most likely the last thing he's concerned about now. That's what happens when you fence yourself out of political dialogue through your own extremism - no one really cares what you think.

Posted by Troll II on Nov. 12, 2012 @ 9:03 pm

The *fact* is that on issues the American people are *far* to the left of their ostensible "leadership."

The *fact* is that while I may have no illusions as to the advisability of voting for the lesser of two evils on occasion, I'll be damned if I'll permit the likes of you to paint me as some sort of mindless idealist because I point out the lies of corporate-friendly Democrats.

Troll II, I'm still trying to figure you out, but this is a great clue. And at the risk of offending Daniele E., fuck you.

Posted by lillipublicans on Nov. 12, 2012 @ 9:18 pm

You're not elevating the dialogue at all in a comment section on that very subject - elevating the dialogue. Perhaps reread what Steven has written and then try and take his message to heart. I realize Olague's defeat and Mirkarimi's impending recall has shocked you to the core but let's not forget our manners here :-)

Posted by Troll II on Nov. 12, 2012 @ 9:31 pm

Speak for yourself, Troll II

Posted by Guest on Nov. 12, 2012 @ 9:24 pm

I don't care what lilli thinks either!

Posted by Guest on Nov. 14, 2012 @ 10:00 am

That seems pretty caring of you. Thanks.

Posted by lillipublicans on Nov. 14, 2012 @ 10:24 am

Obama had a choice to side with 2/3 of Americans who want Wall Street regulated and reined in or he could fold on Republican threat implicitly siding with Wall Street.

No progressive purity here.

Posted by marcos on Nov. 12, 2012 @ 9:27 pm

I've now discovered the heretofore undiscovered "bitters" of the 2012 election and they're not Republicans - they're angry purity progressives pissed off no one's hearing their message.

In other words - sorta like Republicans.

Posted by Troll II on Nov. 12, 2012 @ 9:58 pm

The Democrats ran against the Republicans' idiocy much more than on their record. The polls on the policy questions show what the polls show, and on that stance, the Democrats are not building a lasting bond by being the political party with the least inoffensive odor

Posted by marcos on Nov. 12, 2012 @ 10:06 pm

I heard that Elizabeth Warren might just be presidential material soon enough. Now in my opinion, just by the little I've heard of her, she'll rock. Maybe it does take woman power right now—that is, the right woman. I hate to use the gender difference, but sometimes, as a rule, women—the right ones, anyway—seem to have the compassion thing down, and the bigger-picture thing down and the heart thing down more than men. In general. Sorry, men. I love you anyway. ; )

Posted by Daniele E. on Nov. 12, 2012 @ 10:29 pm

Rarely does the White House pass to the same party after one president's back-to-back double term is finished. Who knows what it'll look like in 2016 and I love me some Elizabeth Warren, but 2020 may be better for her.

Posted by Troll II on Nov. 12, 2012 @ 10:43 pm

Given that Obama is papering over the significant problems with the economy, and given that Warren has yet to enter the Senate, four years is an eternity.

Posted by marcos on Nov. 13, 2012 @ 6:45 am

i dunno. there's a facebook page already for that: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Elizabeth-Warren-for-President-2016/104694...
Look, Texas will probably become a Blue state within the next 10 years, did you know that? So, I think it depends on the strength of a candidate. And she is expressing—not only expressing, but expressing it in strong, resonating ways—things that are popular and right for this country. When I heard that on the radio the other day, I thought immediately: YES.

So I feel good...Obama is setting things in motion. I know he's far from perfect, but don't forget, he really wants to appease the Right. He was cautious....maybe that was wise in the end. It's a perfect set-up for her. With Prop 30 passing here in CA, and Obama holding firm in his stance on taxing the wealthiest, it sets the stage for an Elizabeth Warren. Go Elizabeth!

Posted by Daniele E. on Nov. 13, 2012 @ 8:47 am

So long as Warren is going to go after Wall Street for the kill, then she can do whatever else she wants on other issues. All of the Democrats have cooties on Israel.

Posted by marcos on Nov. 13, 2012 @ 9:28 am

Mondoweiss? Was Storm Front not available lilli? Antisemitism is becoming more of a problem on the left than the right.

Posted by Troll II on Nov. 13, 2012 @ 12:00 pm

Israel is anti-semitic because it engages in war crimes and crimes against humanity in the name of all Jews, an appalling crime spree which many of us do not support.

Posted by marcos on Nov. 13, 2012 @ 12:27 pm

Nobody should ever take anything you write as face value because you have established you ability to lie with absolute ease.

Naturally, any criticism of Israel is "antisemitic" to you; just as any Israeli citizen who is critical of their own domestic or foreign policy is a "self-hating" Jew.

Once again, Troll II, you disgust me.

marcos, point taken. All the Dems have cooties in this regard.

Posted by lillipublicans on Nov. 13, 2012 @ 12:29 pm

This comment is representative of debate at the SFBG.

Posted by Demented, Yet Terribly, Terribly Persistent on Nov. 13, 2012 @ 1:36 pm
Go

Aw

Posted by way! on Nov. 13, 2012 @ 1:39 pm

You know, it is all the fault of the Jooos.

Just ask Lilli about the "radical Zionists" - he'll tell you!

Posted by Demented, Yet Terribly, Terribly Persistent on Nov. 13, 2012 @ 1:40 pm

Miller, a paid consultant, is really out in the wilderness on all these issues.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 17, 2012 @ 10:02 pm

Few politicians can articulate so well many of the important financial and governmental policies that have hurt the lower and middle income families in this country than Elizabeth Warren. The vitriol and backslaps from Repubs against her appointment to the new Consumer Protection Agency were well-deserved since she's much smarter than than the typical politicians and she appeared fairly fearless about imposing financial regulations that would have teeth and consequences. If I worked at or owned shares of Goldman or BofA or Wells or any of the other few dozen multi-billion dollar financial firms I'd be scared to death of her too. I'd want her far, far away from the regulation writing process. I suspect many Democrats were also happy to see her appointment to the Agency rejected.

Of course other politicans like Jerry Brown and Bill Clinton and Obama seemed like super-smart, articulate leaders who would offer significant hope to lower and middle income families, but sadly we've seen how that has worked out. Nonetheless, so far she is head and shoulders above any other Demo candidate being mentioned so I hope her strongest supporters continue to make gains in the Warren for 2016 nomination process.

I'd much rather support quality candidates who might lose than milquetoast candidates who have a better shot at winning since when the milquetoast candidates win we know there will be no significant changes to the status quo, regardless if they are Democrats or Republicans.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 13, 2012 @ 2:00 pm

And, yeah, I am hostile to those who evade accountability while you coddle them because they are your friends.

Posted by marcos on Nov. 07, 2012 @ 6:24 pm

I don't have the authority to either demand accountability or coddle people, all I can do is offer information and persuasion and a forum around which we can grow a progressive people's movement. I've been listening to those tired of being told from on high what is and isn't progressive, and our movement has been hurt by demanding strict adherence to doctrine, either yours or the Guardian's. We need to all give our egos a rest and come together around an ethos and a strategy, and save for another day down the line your strict calls to accountability. First, we need broad buy-in and a strategy, later we can assess how it's working. Until then, Marc, your shrill demands and harsh judgments will fall on deaf ears.

Posted by steven on Nov. 08, 2012 @ 12:04 pm

Steven, you want to have it both ways, to be part of the progressive social club and to do political reportage. Political reportage is not supposed to be a vanity mirror, it is supposed to keep people honest and to check the rise of the egos.

Your reporting does not do that, it gives cover to those whose acts are destructive while getting your panties in a kerfuffle when people like me speak in a way that can be viewed as destructive by those whose "good thing" is threatened with the truth.

This leads to the SFBG suffering from the fatal political flaw of believing your own political bullshit because you become too vested in the political projects that are contributing to progressive collapse to critically evaluate them.

Thus, you're reduced to picking and choosing between your friends when the shit hits the fan.

It is not me who has led this movement off of a cliff. I've tried to make progress on issues I care about but been sandbagged by the coopted and have given up.

And I gotta say, I endorsed the three progressives, Christina, Julian and John early on this past spring and did not waver as almost everyone around me figured out ways that the two they were not supporting were ideologically defective. Look at the ethics reports, I gave the exact same amount to all three over the campaign season while you all were attempting to divine the number of angels which could dance on the head of a pin.

Did any other progressives support all three progressives? The SFBG sure didn't, as Christina was deemed to be full of cooties by the directorate. Shit, if Olague and I are not progressives by your measure, you're off an island and on a tiny sea rock.

What we've got now are those who've been paid to do this work, who forcibly occupy an defend political space within the progressive realm from that position of relative advantage, and are failing yet still get paid, often time with public and working people's money.

Why would that be, Steven? Can you answer that one simple question that cuts to the heart of accountability and failure without whining that I'm not showing you the deferential respect that you're sure you're due?

Posted by marcos on Nov. 08, 2012 @ 12:44 pm

It's not about respect for me, but respect and tolerance for all people with progressive values, not just those you deem worthy. Yours is a strange metric, Marc. When we demanded accountability from Olague, who was being paid and failing in her progressive leadership until the Mayor's Office turned on her, how is that any different than what you're advocating? Your stand now seems to be less about principle than your personal grudges and the sleights you've suffered, which may be why nobody seems to be supporting your whiny and oft-repeated calls for a progressive purge. I'm about love and expansion, not hate and contraction.

Posted by steven on Nov. 09, 2012 @ 11:40 am

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