SF's newest political pole gets a new name: Moderate progressives

Image from Sick Puppies album (Virgin Records)

A Daily Kos blogger known as Kurykh has posted an interesting and insightful “crash course in San Francisco politics,” in which he correctly identifies the tri-polar dynamic of local politics. Everyone knows the progressives (Ammiano, Avalos, the Guardian) and the so-called moderates (Wiener, Ma, the Chronicle), and so Kurykh dubs the rising third pole (Chiu, Kim, Mayor Lee) “moderate progressives.”

He calls them “the new kids on the block,” noting that they sided with progressives in 2008 but ushered in a new political reality by siding with the moderates in 2010, now serving essentially as the swing votes on major issues and projects.

“Like other progressives, they are pro-tenant and advocate for more social services to the poor. However, they have pro-business and pro-development tendencies and tend to focus on streamlining bureaucracy and effective government,” he wrote of the moderate progressives.

Personally, I think a more accurate label for this rising new power center is “neoliberal” (I just called them “liberals” in my own San Francisco political primer that I wrote a year ago), a political term describing the belief that any reforms or progress needs to be negotiated with capitalists and corporations instead of coming directly through taxes or regulations.

And I think it underestimates the influence that so-called “moderates” who are actually quite conservative when it come to finances and land use – people like Lee fundraiser Ron Conway and Planning Commissioner Michael Antonini – have in influencing Lee and shaping politics in the city.

But I welcome this contribution to helping San Franciscans understand the political dynamics that are governing this city.


a healthy thing. Daly was a very polarizing figure and Kim is far more effective at getting things done. Likewise Breed is likely to be far more reasonable than the gruff Mirk. Chui ushered in a new mayor who is popular with the people, and there is a feeling now that the city government is closer to the moderate, liberal center of the majority of the people here, who disdain extremists of either hue and rigis doma's with equal ferocity.

If SF is going to have a government that is moderate and capable of listening to all parties rather than just their lobby groups and base constituencies, then it has to be a good thing for the city. The changing demographics of the city demand no less.

Posted by Anonymous on Nov. 19, 2012 @ 7:09 pm

Interesting. I don't know about including Mar in the 'moderate progressives' unless you are basically just saying it is an asian voting bloc that is not driven so much by traditional progressive/moderate dynamics and has a good relationship with the mayor which (assuming Yee's voting record puts him here) it basically is.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 19, 2012 @ 9:12 pm

The old style progressive movement is a thing of the past, if you want to finger point aim it towards Redmond and Jones as they put the last of the nails into the progressive coffin when they destroyed the Davis campaign in D5

Posted by Guest on Nov. 19, 2012 @ 9:12 pm

Two writers at the Bay Guardian killed the progressive movement when they put their hands down a woman's pants and then fired off a cease and desist letter to her. Glad that progressive movement is over, let's start a real one.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 19, 2012 @ 9:57 pm

unelectable. By switching their support to Olague, they at least were backing someone who could have won although, in the end, like Davis, Olague torpedoed her own chance of winning by supporting Ross.

Davis and Olague both self-destructed. You cannot blame SFBG for that. But SFBG have been slow to recognize and adopt the "new" progressives, which is why Steven is reporting that as if it was news. It isn't.

When Lee won the mayoral lottery and Kim trashed "old guard" Walker in D6, SFBG should have seen which way the wind was blowing, but they had their heads in the sand. Likewise in D5, D10 etc.

The healthy thing about this is that the "old guard" were privileged whites (Daly, Ammiano etc.) The new moderates are non-white, often female, and don't have any truck with rigid left-wing dogma.

This is a good and ehalthy thing.

Posted by Anonymous on Nov. 20, 2012 @ 7:44 am

and more on other topics elsewhere; arguments which if they were physical structures would be comprised completely of dry rotted wood fastened with erzats below-grade materials.

Posted by lillipublicans on Nov. 20, 2012 @ 9:18 am

evidence, facts, logic and pertinent commentary, rather than just try and insult anyone here making a contribution that you happen not to agree with.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 20, 2012 @ 9:26 am

Case in point.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 20, 2012 @ 9:34 am

He's the biggest troll here and yet all he does is accuse others of trolling.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 20, 2012 @ 9:53 am

It's like Ground Hog day. The fact that lilli stuck his head out of his hole (or wherever he keeps it) and babbled several times against praise for the new SF power alignment is a good thing.

Like Punxsutawney Phil predicting a short winter, I think our lilli is predicting better days ahead for San Francisco with today's angry babbling!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Posted by Troll on Nov. 20, 2012 @ 10:16 am

commentary here larded as it is with errata and deception.


Posted by lillipublicans on Nov. 20, 2012 @ 10:34 am

The drama! It may come as a surprise, but the Guardian isn't THAT influential.

Posted by Hortencia on Nov. 21, 2012 @ 7:29 am

You wouldn't have so many troll droppings on this site if the Guardian wasn't influential. An endorsement by the Guardian is still worth tens of thousands of votes, and the politicians are well aware of it.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 21, 2012 @ 1:46 pm

In practice, they just enjoy inciting anxiety in the insecure souls that dwell here. It's receational.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 21, 2012 @ 2:02 pm

Trolls gonna troll. They're (our?) enthusiasm for commenting here and elsewhere has very little connection to how sane people vote. By the way, I never said the Guardian has no influence (obviously the Clean Slate is important), just not as much as the overwrought commenter to whom I was responding seemed to indicate it does.

Posted by Hortencia on Nov. 22, 2012 @ 9:09 am

What's going on? Moon phase? New contracts for the paid flacks now that the political season came to a close?

Posted by lillipublicans on Nov. 19, 2012 @ 11:25 pm

Moderate Progressives support social services to the poor, are pro-tenant, AND wish to foster more homeownership opportunities.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 20, 2012 @ 8:33 am

Meaning that they are on the left side of centrist but are certainly not dogmatic idelogs?

A feature of SF "progressives" is that they hate. They hate republicans, businessmen, developers, christians, landlords and anyone with money.

Moderates see the fallacy of any hate-based ideologies and see government as the arbiter of conflicting interests in society, and choose consensual and compromise solutions.

We not have a moderate mayor and board of supervisors. Most residents are happy about that.

Posted by Anonymous on Nov. 20, 2012 @ 9:05 am

I think the hate shines through from its true source.

Posted by lillipublicans on Nov. 20, 2012 @ 9:44 am

All three groups are decent people who want to find resources that can help those who need it most. The new 'Moderate/Progressive' block wants to also build a strong, sustainable tax base that can reasonably support those types of projects.

The SFBG Progressives want to provide assistance to those who need it, but their means to do so is a mystery. If you read Tim Redmond it seems to be that they want to forcibly seize the assets of the wealthy and hand them out in the Western Addition. Anyone with an income over $250,000 should be forced to wear a marker that identifies them as 'boring'.

Twitter and 8 Washington are great examples. The Moderate/Progressives see it as an opportunity to build a diverse city and a growing tax base that they can work with. The Redmond Progressives see them as horrible invasions. For the Redmonds the money to support the lower classes will come from...well, we're not exactly sure where.

Posted by Troll on Nov. 20, 2012 @ 9:14 am

if a development greatly boosts the tax base and brings in critical revenues BUT it is targetted at those who are successful or might slightly tilt the demographics of the city in another direction, then they foam at the mouth and oppose it.

In fact, Tim probably opposes any building of any private structure anywhere in SF, unless it's a not-for-profit collective for hispanic lesbians to produce bad art (like that's not "boring").

People like Tim are riddled with envy, and hate on anyone who succeeds or creates prosperity. His politics simply ensue from his prejudices and hate. The newer brand of SF liberals reject that old-style, old-school socialistic class warfare. Instead they represent all SF'ers and reach out to all of us, not just their own supporters.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 20, 2012 @ 9:32 am

Under Prop 13, property taxes for residential don't cover the costs of providing city services to those units. What one very small hand giveth, a very large hand taketh away. Same with the proposed basketball arena, public subsidy for private windfall.

With speculative windfalls now exempt from local business tax, all wealth continues to accrue in one direction and one direction alone, away from most of us.

Posted by marcos on Nov. 21, 2012 @ 10:52 am

on a SF home is typically more than it would be in, say, Texas, which has a 3% property tax.

SF also gets trickle down revenues from Sacraamento and CA has the highest income and sales taxes in the nation.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 21, 2012 @ 11:02 am

The Planning Department disagrees with you based on a study conducted in 2007 or so that concludes that even with high RE values, under Prop 13, residential units do not cover their costs at occupancy time and that gap only widens as assessed values rise slower than inflation on the cost of providing city services.

Posted by marcos on Nov. 21, 2012 @ 11:31 am

is only because SF tries to provide all manner of ridiculous services that almost no other jurisdiction does - most notably paying for sex change operations.

SF's prop tax would easily be sufficient is we simply moderated the spending excess.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 21, 2012 @ 12:22 pm

...in favor of developments like 8 Washington, or do they try to take them on a case-by-case basis?

Posted by Hortencia on Nov. 21, 2012 @ 10:38 am

The progressives are now relegated to interoperating within politics under the proviso that they accept the neoliberal framing and work within it.

The squishy center is simply less circumspect about their embracing of corporate power, siding with it under the hopes of gaining political advantage over the long term. I don't see how one can ascribe an ideology, left, right, liberal, progressive to transactionalists.

The remnant progressives are relegated to the point where they accede to corporate imperative and simply decline to leverage what is supposed to be their comparative advantage--community organizing--to stop corporate dominance.

Posted by marcos on Nov. 20, 2012 @ 9:26 am

I don't need my politicians to have an ideology any more than I need them to have a religion. "Transactionalist" is really just a pejorative term for getting things done, and I believe that most SF'ers want competent administration not wholesale ideology-driven change. Just get muni working better, fix the streets, expand the taxbase - nothing fancy or distractive.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 20, 2012 @ 9:52 am

Ideology is another word for a political value set. I want elected officials to carry my values into the formulation of public policy, not to just do whatever is needed to crawl over the next razor blade to ensure that they do not end up in political oblivion.

Posted by marcos on Nov. 20, 2012 @ 9:59 am

rigid ideology. A politician who is pragmatic rather than ideological can assess each situation on it's own merits, listen compassionately to all parties, and then make an informed decision.

Just look at Avalos at the 2011 election. He refused tot alk to business, landlords or anyone other than his own constituency. He offered no interest in creating job while Lee was all over that.

The pragmatic Lee beat the ideolog Avalos by a country mile as a result. People don't want puppets of unions and tenants in power. Nor do they want politicians who hate certain constituencies.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 20, 2012 @ 10:17 am

It is not ideology that keeps progressives from reaching outside of their comfort zone, it is a prejudice that many have against most San Franciscans.

Perhaps there is a leftist ideological disdain for anyone who is not an abject poor person of color or immigrant, but that is not an inherent characteristic of progressives.

I don't think that people want corporate tools in power either, but when the "progressive alternative" has no place for most voting San Franciscans because of an array of prejudices, we get the corporate tool.

Posted by marcos on Nov. 20, 2012 @ 10:25 am

The dominant ideology is the background political radiation of the status quo and is invisible unless special steps are taken to account for its normativity. This does not mean that there the dominant ideology is not an ideology, rather that we've been soaking in it for so long that we no longer realize that it exists.

Posted by marcos on Nov. 20, 2012 @ 10:34 am

So they came up with the term "moderate" (why not call it what it is?). "Moderate progressive" is a non sequitur. Try saying "conservative progressive" to see how absurd it sounds. Neoliberalism, the better term, is just a form of capitulation to the terms set by the 1% and to the capitalist order. It is really just conservatism with an occasional bone thrown out to the poor so it doesn't appear so heartless. But the result is the same: Neoliberal actors who force austerity down the throats of the 99% to profit the large corporations (study the recent history of European "socialism"). People who capitulate to corporate rule are not progressive in any sense of the term.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 20, 2012 @ 3:32 pm

I know a few and they are definitely right-wing. "Moderate" means the silent majority who aren't Republican but also certainly have no time for the hard lefties.

Is it so shocking to anyone that most people might just be neutral and centrist. Even Nixon got that.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 20, 2012 @ 5:26 pm

So because you know a few conservative republicans in SF all SF republicans are therefore conservative? Makes no sense.

I am a registered republican, live in SF and consider myself a moderate, figure that out.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 20, 2012 @ 5:41 pm

members? Gee, I would never have guessed.

But yeah, the ones I know are right-wing, but they're not religious so I guess you might call them "moderate" too. Point is, they are not centrists in that, say, they voted for Bush and Romney.

According to some here, they don't exist in SF.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 20, 2012 @ 6:01 pm

Your post seemed to belaying that because the few republicans you know in SF are conservative, all are. Also, I am confused by your definition, or really a lack of one for moderates. In your mind, what defines moderates?

Posted by Guest on Nov. 20, 2012 @ 6:47 pm

Either you think that money should accrue to those who have it, or you think it's a phenomenon akin to a runaway train and represents social pathology.

Everything else is arguing the fine points or self deception.

The self-deception comes in when people claim they are acting moderately when their actions exacerbate the economic (i.e. power) imbalance within society.

Yes there are right wingers in San Francisco. Yes there are conservatives who call themselves Democrats because of social policy (i.e. they are too smart to call themselves libertarians).

Moderates? That's mostly bullshit. There are moderates, but it's only a small percentage of them who claim to be so.

Posted by lillipublicans on Nov. 21, 2012 @ 8:00 am

Foghorn Leghorn aka Mike Garcia was a registered libertarian who reregistered Democrat to have a hope of winning, yet he was too far out even for D7 where voters rejected Elsbernd's appeals to support Foghorn Leghorn.

Posted by marcos on Nov. 21, 2012 @ 8:17 am

Makes it so much easier to get the villagers to pick up the torches and pitchforks when messy nuance is stamped out.

Posted by Hortencia on Nov. 21, 2012 @ 8:23 am

The whole point of the swing voter supervisors is to give business everythign it wants and to grant just enough public money to the nonprofit sector so that the coopted radicals will be the first ones to check the villagers rising up with pitchforks and torches.

Posted by marcos on Nov. 21, 2012 @ 8:36 am

your last utterance is quite staggering.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 21, 2012 @ 8:55 am

More caterwauling about how government regulation is anti-business while the thriving engine of the non-finance US economy is centered right here in the California hell of anti-business sentiment. No matter what steps government takes that come close to touching the bottom line of business, the boiler plate response is that the sky will fall and the earth will crack open to engulf us all. But the reality paints a different picture, plastic bags were banned without any serious consequence, taxes have been increased and extended to online sales and yet Apple, Google, Facebook, Cisco, Genentech, PayPal and eBay have yet to flee. It is only where the corruption is legion and residents and citizens are frozen out of the political process where opportunistic politicians sell out their constituencies by offering up corporate welfare for those who are already well off enough to buy government up and keep it away from the rest of us.

Posted by marcos on Nov. 21, 2012 @ 9:03 am

That must explain the plunging commercial real-estate vacancy rate the city's currently experiencing.

Posted by Hortencia on Nov. 21, 2012 @ 9:04 am

...that the pitchfork-and-torch mentality is in direct opposition to reason and nuance. The "either you're for us or against us" mentality is the problem.

Posted by Hortencia on Nov. 21, 2012 @ 10:40 am

Those may be metaphors for credit default swaps and predatory lending? Rapacious development practices and mandatory sentencing laws?

Posted by lillipublicans on Nov. 21, 2012 @ 8:47 am

There is also the notion that if one positions oneself as the perpetual swing vote that one gains more power for oneself. Peskin played this role but was fundamentally grounded politically. These new swing vote supervisors are doing so transactionally for their own self interest.

It is not like corporate power could function without the social services nonprofits, as these tools are critical to their continued dominance as they effectively neutralize any progressive challenge. If progressives hadn't adopted the nonprofit social services as political touchstones, corporate power would have had to have created them.

Posted by marcos on Nov. 20, 2012 @ 6:25 pm

Sometimes your comments are just totally whacked, Marcos.

Non-profits exist to provide funnels for public money and to reward the parasites that run them. If they all vanished tomorrow, I swear nobody would even notice. Certainly not Apple and Google.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 20, 2012 @ 6:36 pm

At all levels, the nonprofit complex insulates corporate political power from popular demands and allows the government to not respond to them.

The nonprofit complex is a tool of legitimation that does not have to play any significant role in achieving its stated mission because the mission of nonprofits serves those who fund it, not those who work within the complex, who make a political cottage industry out of fighting for nonprofit funding or, of course, the people the nonprofits claim to serve.

Apple and Google are not major players in SF politics.

Posted by marcos on Nov. 20, 2012 @ 6:47 pm

"These new swing vote supervisors are doing so transactionally for their own self interest."

In other words, they're doing what politicians have always done. Big whoop.

Posted by Hortencia on Nov. 21, 2012 @ 7:31 am