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Monday, November 28, 2011

On Second Thought, the Guardian Is Perfect and Progressives Are Doing Great

Posted By on Mon, Nov 28, 2011 at 6:59 AM

click to enlarge Forget everything! You guys were right. You always are! Things are lookin' up!
  • Forget everything! You guys were right. You always are! Things are lookin' up!

A strange thing happened at January's farewell "roast" for Supervisor Chris Daly -- something that neatly encapsulated the spirit of San Francisco's progressive movement. Earlier that week, David Chiu had betrayed progressives by championing Willie Brown's candidate for mayor. But even though Chiu attended the roast, where every progressive under the sun was on hand, it was surprise (invited) guest C.W. Nevius who was hit with a pie.

Do you get it? The guy who truly screws their movement in a concrete way shows up, but instead progressive activists go after a newspaper columnist for sometimes disagreeing with them.

The symbolism was perfect -- and very much in the spirit of the Guardian's response to our cover story "Progressively Worse." Instead of taking it for what it was, a realpolitik look at how the progressives lost their 10-year hold on legislative power, they took it as a hit piece.

Instead of admitting that 2011 clearly calls for some soul searching, they're proud of what they've accomplished this year -- as though their board coalition hadn't shattered; as though they hadn't lost the fight over appointing an interim mayor; as though they hadn't lost the fight over appointing a board president; as though they hadn't lost their hold on the board committees; as though they hadn't lost major legislative battles ranging from the Twitter tax break to the Park Merced project; as though they hadn't gotten trounced in an election where their mayoral candidate lost by 20 points.

That all happened. But the Guardian still demands progressive political acumen be unconditionally praised because -- apparently -- progressive activists are very sincere. So ... congratulations?

Asking "what happened?" isn't a hit piece. It's analysis -- and relevant to progressive candidates. But apparently we should have interviewed an "actual progressive," like N'Tanya Lee, instead of Aaron Peskin, Chris Daly, Matt Gonzalez, Tom Ammiano, and John Avalos.

Naturally we want to refute the Guardian's response point by point. But you know what? Forget it. If the Guardian was

capable of self-reflection, we wouldn't have had to do it for them.

We're not going to do it twice. You can lead an activist to insight but

you can't make him think.

So, yes, Guardian: You are entirely right, as usual. We get it.

Nothing is ever progressives' fault. It's entirely the result of evil forces

marshaled against you.

The fact that moderates had "a sophisticated get out the vote effort" --

and you didn't -- should in no way make you scratch your heads and ask

"how could a movement based on grassroots organizing be so bad at

getting people to the polls?"

The fact that Mayor Ed Lee had "a

calculated campaign strategy concentrating efforts on absentee ballots,"

and you didn't -- even after that's precisely what sank Gonzalez in

2003 -- is no reason to ask why you didn't develop one in the ensuing years.

The fact that you've failed to reach out to voters in other districts and driven away legions of would-be allies is their fault, not yours.

You're great communicators. They're just bad listeners.

The fact that, after 10 years as a political force in this city, you're

just now excited by the idea that your standard-bearer might create a

lasting organization in no way suggests a corresponding failure of 10

years' duration.

The fact that you always get excited when your base is rallied -- and

that it's never gone anywhere -- isn't a warning sign. At all.

The fact that you give us grief for noting that the Guardian endlessly

pitches public power as the solution to all of San Francisco's problems --

and then propose public power as a solution to the city's rampant

unemployment in the next paragraph -- is in no way tone-deaf.

You are perfect. There is no lesson for you to learn. Don't ever change. Things are going great!

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Benjamin Wachs


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