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Corporate Democrats, nationally and at home

Why is SF electing Clinton Democrats over Bernie Democrats -- when that doesn't need to happen?

Dean Preston and Sen. Sanders: What if the progressives were united for Bernie Democrats across the board?

I am not an expert on national politics or the national Democratic Party. But I think at this point we ought to be able to agree on a few things.

After McGovern lost to Nixon, the party decided to move to the center. That brought us Jimmy Carter, who was the original corporate Democrat. He may be a great ex-president, and a guy who now has strong morals, but in the White House, he was the guy who started cutting taxes on the rich even before Reagan.

Dean Preston and Sen. Sanders: What if the progressives were united for Bernie Democrats across the board?
Dean Preston and Sen. Sanders: What if the progressives were united for Bernie Democrats across the board?

Then we lost to Reagan and decided to go right, which brought us Bill Clinton, who brought us the end of welfare (and the safety net), Nafta, and deregulation, and increased economic inequality. Then we got Bush, and finally we got a clue and nominated Obama … who decided he had to work with the GOP and pass a health-care law written by the insurance industry.

And now: Hillary Clinton, because Bernie was too far to the left to win.

But that was wrong, of course.  A lot of people now think Bernie would have won. Because he offered a real alternative, because he said that the way things are going in this country is totally wrong, and needs to fundamentally change.

Because he could have spoken to all the people who once voted for Obama, then voted for Trump.

So when the Democratic Party has this discussion over the next couple of years, let’s remember: The reason Trump won is not just because there are a lot of racist, sexist, nativist nuts out there. It’s because Hillary Clinton didn’t offer an alternative.

If Bernie would have won, the candidates we put forward from her on out need to remember that.


Now let’s come home.

San Francisco just sent to the state Senate a Hillary Clinton Democrat, not a Bernie Sanders Democrat. Pretty clear there: Clinton backed Scott Wiener, and Sanders backed Jane Kim.

San Francisco voted to put a majority of Hillary Clinton Democrats on the Board of Supes.

And it didn’t have to be that way.

In 2008, when progressives ran the table and won every district, labor was united with the left community. This time around, labor was split and very shaky in Districts 11 and 5. A community-labor coalition would have elected the Bernie Democrat in both districts. They were both winnable.

Let’s ask the question: Suppose progressive leaders like Aaron Peskin and Jane Kim were active supporters of Kim Alvarenga in D11 and Dean Preston in D5. Suppose the Democratic County Central Committee had enough Bernie Democrats to endorse Preston and Alvarenga.

Is it possible, even likely, that the Bernie Democrats, not the Hillary Democrats, would control the Board of Supes next year?

Alvarenga is losing by only about 600 votes. Preston is less than 2,000 votes behind. If the progressive leadership had been united behind them, that probably would have made the difference.


There was big corporate money in the game, and it made a difference. In the Wiener-Kim race, that money was a big factor. I don’t think the fact that progressives put a few reform measures on the ballot, which Kim endorsed and Wiener opposed, was even remotely a factor here: The mayor was with Wiener anyway, nobody voted in the state Senate race on the basis of whether San Francisco should have a new housing commission, and the No on D, H, L, and M money was a sideshow.

The reason Wiener won is that he decided after losing the primary to go entirely negative, to use every nasty trick in the book to attack his opponent – and he had the money and the outside independent spending to do it.

Wiener supporters attacked Kim over her personal life in the Chinese community. They launched scathing, sexist assaults. They put a bogus measure on the ballot about homeless encampments and tents and attacked her in disgraceful ways for opposing it.

I don’t know how some of Wiener’s more reasonable backers, like state Sen. Mark Leno, were able to tolerate this.

The issues vanished in the November race. Kim tried to talk about affordable housing; Wiener’s allies talked about her sex life. Kim tried to talk about Ellis Act reform; Wiener’s supporters said she was a captive of the soda industry.

And because too many people tolerated it, Wiener was able to damage Kim enough to get what he wanted, a state Senate seat.

It will be very, very hard for him to repair the damage that he’s done in this scorched-earth race.


So the mayor held a “unity” rally Monday, and he and Sup London Breed spoke.  But the fall elections were not about “unity,” and if the new supes and the mayor continue to act as Hillary Clinton corporate Democrats, the city is going to be in serious trouble.

And SF won’t be doing what it should be, which is leading the nation in the rebellion against Trumpism, at every level.


  1. Kim has no ‘noticeable accomplishments re: “affordable housing”? But, but …, she ‘made’ developers build 25% “affordable” (after exempting everyone in the pipeline – which means its really only Leno’s 12%), such that any FUTURE ‘affordable housing’ might or might not get built just as any future market rate housing may or may not get built. Great job in squelching housing, Jane!

    What about her “40%” at Mission Rock? Actually, kinda easy when you’re talking about up zoning from 0′ to 240′. Good job, Jane

    I’m sure she got some “affordable housing” built – like taking the BMR out of mixed-use 972 Market and putting it all in an “affordable housing” ghetto on Turk. Looking’ good, Jane.

  2. I truly truly believe that our problems in SF and across the country are caused by rich people. The accumulation of mass wealth is both morally and economically indefensible. I don’t care what industry a single 20/30-something making over 300k/year is in – tech, finance, real estate – they are hurting our community. Kim and others are fighting to protect working families against the ravages of wealth and to limit the unchecked power of the market.

    So is this a message of hate? It’s certainly not easy on the wealthy. Is it fair to compare my politics to those of a racist billionaire who at every stage of his life has fought for the privileges of wealthy? Sure, why not. In any case, I eschew any kumbaya politics that allows Wiener and his ilk to hide who their agenda truly hurts: working class San Franciscans.

  3. It is really tragic that you believe these lies you are spewing. I guess that is what is really wrong with Progressives in San Francisco: they believe their own lies.

  4. Watch your share of electorate shrink and shrink and shrink as you refuse to acknowledge the real reasons you lost this election and lost control of the BoS. Your nativist values and hateful mischaracterization of your opponents agenda do not resonate with a majority of San Franciscans. And every year, a new crop of young millennials arrive who tip the scales further against you.

  5. Dean your making scream anger upon,corporate induce” politics of Bay area. Ed Lee,London and Scott chosen elite” you can still beat them rhetoric bought prosperity to cartels not avid. Resident of San Francisco anyhow,eager see you future run again 2020! I concur higher taxes for “cartels” benefit schools,new subway lines and roads go Dean! London is liar using district (5) ratio of regression,violence and impartial attitude benefit gains mayoral office 2020!

  6. Calling that BS –
    Prop J was spearheaded by Mayor Lee. Kim was part of the negotiations with business, labor and unions BUT they had their own minimum wage Prop to go on the ballot. If anything Kim delayed workers from receiving $15 an hour an additional year (Kim’s measure 2018, the unions measure it by 2017).
    No “part” of Dolores Park was going to be privatized but it was Wiener who intervened. Here is the memo from Park and Rec
    “Given the recent debate regarding the reservation of specified lawn areas for large group picnic, wedding and birthday parties in our beloved Dolores Park, the Recreation and Park Department, in consultation with Supervisor Scott Wiener, is suspending the issuance of permits for this use. We want to take a step back to have more open public dialogue regarding our long-standing reservation policies at Dolores Park that are designed to provide accountability for the use of our public parks by larger gatherings. The picnic table areas at Dolores park primarily used for children and family parties will continue to be permitted during this time.”
    Kim exploited the issue with a progressive dog whistle “this city is not for sale.” This shows her willingness to be divisive while accomplishing nothing of value.
    As for affordable housing – every supervisor calls for it. Kim did no more than get press coverage, she has no notable accomplishments. Wiener did pilot auxiliary dwelling units in his district, it was successful and now it is going city wide.
    Maybe voters like myself voted for Wiener because we are aware of the facts and less susceptible to the alt left rantings of 48 HIills, SFExaminer and other yellow journalism rags.

  7. JK authored the $15 minimum wage ordinance in SF. She consistently forced developers to give more affordable housing, which Wiener always opposed. When sections of Dolores Park were privatized for the wealthy, she led the successful fight against it.

    Many (conservative) Asians voted against her bc of Wiener’s attack on her sex life.

    basically, if you voted for Wiener, I’m sure you’re still a nice person. but you’re either A) not a progressive or B) made a mistake.

  8. Spoken like a true white girl whose only concern is hanging onto her rent controlled apartment in a swank neighborhood. What college did you go to?

  9. Yea! The last thing we need is an African American born and raised in SF, who was displaced when the housing project she lived in with her grandmother was torn down, on the BOS. What could she possibly know about the working people of SF?
    We need a wealthy white attorney from New York, someone who owns one of the precious Victorians on Alamo Square, to save the working people of SF.

  10. All the Asians (that I know) in my neighborhood (homeowners, none are college grads but their kids are getting there) voted for Wiener because keeping their homes is more important than identity politics. What has Kim done for the SF working class?

  11. couldn’t agree more! except that Jane Kim was patently the candidate for the working class. all the “limousine liberals” and “hipsters” I know voted for Wiener – as it is in their interest to do so. that was my point! Kim would’ve fought for the working class and curbed the unchecked rights of the wealthy in Sacramento. only silver lining is that we are going to keep her in SF.

  12. Maybe the hard working (nurses, teachers, police and firefighters) ppl in SF who work their asses off to own a home – a two bedroom attached stucco in a non-hipster neighborhood are REAL Dems. If the coalition of limousine liberals, hipsters and self righteous non-profit employees looking to enrich themselves who supported Kim had paid attention to working Dems in Wisconsin, Michigan & Penn we wouldn’t be in this mess.

  13. I voted for Wiener because he has the political chops to craft sensible legislation. All Jane Kim offered were progressive dog whistles and aerobic workouts. She certainly doesn’t give a fig about people such as myself – a retired RN and homeowner in Vis Valley. Her tenant protections 2.0 mean that no sensible home owner would ever consider legalizing an auxiliary unit in their home. Anyone could be stuck with the roommate from hell living in their own home thanks to Kim.
    Luckily I was able to evict my roommate from hell (I never put a lock on her door, she had access to my upstairs and she did not have a separate entrance) Many of my friends have said why don’t you just turn it into an apartment – they know nothing of SF tenant protections.
    When I owned rental property one of my tenants tried to commit suicide by setting his apartment on fire. We served him notice while he was in SF General Psychiatric Unit. Under Kim 2.0 we would have to give him a chance to cure the violation – tell that to the other tenants in the building.

  14. Its possible Dean could run again in 2020 in an open election. By then, this will be one of the few ‘progressive’ districts left. And he’ll win a majority from all the new occupants of those $500/mth apts that will become so affordable under Peskin & Kim.

  15. Usually an incumbent has an easy path to reelection, especially when running against a virtually unknown opponent. Not so in the D5 supervisor race. As of this writing, London Breed has 53% of the vote and Dean Preston has 47%. The DOE reports that there are still around 90,000 ballots to be counted. Breed had infinite financial resources from Big Money outsiders/non D5ers like Ron Conway, DeeDee Wilsey, Airbnb, Big Tech, lobbyists, developers and realtors–all of them couldn’t write checks fast enough. Breed got nearly all the “big” endorsements (The Chronicle, The Examiner, Ed Lee, Feinstein, Willie Brown, Gavin Newsom, etc.) and she drew on the sway of her office as President of the BOS. Heck she even had Samuel L. Jackson making robocalls in the 12th hour. And that was was barely enough. Dean Preston gave London Breed a run for her $$$. Breed was clearly terrified that she would lose and that’s probably why, with less than 3 weeks to go before Election Day, she lobbed the Airbnb 60 day cap Hail Mary pass. The folks in D5 are wide awake now thanks to Dean Preston. And, once all of the ballots are tallied and Breed wins, it is crystal clear that Preston inspired and engaged our district. This is only the beginning.

  16. Progressives ran a “hate (Asian) techie” campaign and pulled out all the stops to support it. You are right, it will be very hard for Progressives to be able to reach out Tech Workers (10% of the population and rising) or Asians (33% of San Franciscans and rising) ever again.

    Your movement, which is based on a older Boomer white base is broken in San Francisco. You will slowly wither away and become irrelevant. This is progress, not something to be bemoaned.

  17. Don’t remember Carter being a bad president, had strong morals in office (his downfall actually), was very interested in alternate engery sources and environmental issues. Republicans hated him, stole his campaign black book, Reagan mocked him in the debates. Carter said appointing Volker as head of Fed lost him the election – V. too efficient at taming inflation.

    Bernie wouldn’t have won or come close to winning the election. Being Jewish and a socialist is a huge liabiity in the south and midwest. Also he wouidn’t have gotten much of the hispanic or black vote (his demographic similar to Eugene McCarthy’s, whereas Hillary’s was roughly Robert Kennedy’s). Republicans would have destroyed Sanders with the “naked cruelty” they used on Dukakis – make a caricature out of him, a wizard of oz figure. Plus the strange bondage story he wrote as a young man would have put him at odds with the persona he later projected.

    Time to forget all the usual Democrat differences now and focus an collective eye on Trump.

    Incidentally, in a short comment on Adam Shatz’s blog post in the LRB, Joan Scott has an interesting Freudian interpretation of Trump’s visceral appeal to voters – like that of a satyr or bacchus figure:

    “He was the all-powerful father Freud theorized about in Totem and Taboo—the one who can make the law without having to follow it …”


  18. I am not sure where you are getting anything about Kim Jane’s sex life leading to her loss in the election? I vaguely recall some very slight whispers about something to do with a former law professor. I am a “news junkie,” I scour the web, including all mainstream and alternative and “local” sites, I watch all the local and national channels, I even read every flyer and zine I can pick up. If I barely can recall anything related to Jane’s “sex life” than I am sure the average SF voter never even heard it in the first place, and those that did, didn’t give a shit (this is SF, not Peoria, IL).

    Jane Kim didn’t lose because of any whispering about her sex life, nor did she lose because of sexism. She lost because, fair or not, she was pegged with having a history of flip-flopping on the issues and being a “sell-out”—the Twitter tax, Ross Mirkarimi, the Academy of Art, etc.

    Instead of very corporate-looking slick ads with her showing off her marital arts skills and claiming she is a “fighter,” she should have stayed grounded and focused on a clear message and cited her accomplishments to back it up.

  19. I was really disappointed that Peskin didn’t come out forcefully for Kim. It’s obvious why, when you consider he’ll be running for Mayor and doesn’t want to step on anyone’s toes. I know and like Aaron but I won’t be a supporter when he runs for just this reason. True progressives learn how to stick to their guns, still participate, and succeed. I absolutely agree with your take on the Kim-Weiner race, and thought at the time that more support from so called “allies” could have made the difference. Now we’ve got Weiner. Not quite the same as getting Trump, maybe, but just as infuritating for being so embarrassing

  20. If there are 90,000 ballots left to be counted then probably 8,000 are relevant to D5. Preston, who has 47% of the vote so far would have to win 62% of the remaining votes to pull even.

    Why are you under the impression that HRC endorsed Breed? Just curious.

  21. Historically an incumbent has an easy path to reelection, especially when running against a virtually unknown opponent. As of this writing, London Breed has 53% of the vote and Dean Preston has 47%. The DOE reports that there are still around 90,000 ballots to be counted. Breed had infinite financial resources from Big Money outsiders/non D5ers like Ron Conway, DeeDee Wilsey, Airbnb, Big Tech, lobbyists, developers and realtors couldn’t write checks fast enough. Breed got nearly all the “big” endorsements (The Chronicle, The Examiner, Ed Lee, Feinstein, Willie Brown, Gavin Newsom, HRC etc.), and she drew on the power of her office as President of the BOS. Heck she even had Samuel L. Jackson making robocalls in the 12th hour. And that was was barely enough. Dean Preston gave London Breed a run for her $$$. She was clearly terrified that she would lose to an unknown and that’s probably where the Airbnb 60 day cap Hail Mary pass came from (less than 3 weeks before Election Day). The folks in D5 are wide awake now thanks to Dean Preston. And if it happens that Breed wins once all of the ballots are counted, It remains clear that Preston has electrified and engaged our district. This is only the beginning.

  22. Kim should have begged PGE for more money – the $150,000 they put up for her through their various lobbying arms clearly wasn’t enough. A salient fact Tim forgot to mention here,

  23. Scott always had the 10% of SF that’s Republican – even if Kim beat him in the Dem primary.

    And if I remember correctly, Bernie didn’t win in June, so that endorsement fulfilled its meaning. Kim didn’t do herself any favors with her stance on Prop V – kind of a head-scratcher as to who she really was. Oh my, guess it paid well.

    Just as well. Jane doesn’t have an ear for compromise (or justice). Though it looks like with the new legis in Sacto she wouldn’t have needed it!

  24. I’m shocked that Preston lost in this ultra-prog district. (oh, and its 2000+, and growing)

    Then again, it did look a little incongruous that a rich, white, outsider lawyer would be challenging a homegrown Black woman.

    I guess in a way he won – she voted for the new 60 Day ABnB law, which I don’t think she would have last year.

  25. And his campaign was paid a ton – basically pay for play.

    “A pair of tech investors who stand to gain from the Airbnb bill heading toward passage at the San Francisco Board of Supervisors have pumped nearly $550,000 into a committee helping the law’s author, board President David Chiu, in his state Assembly race by attacking opponent David Campos.”


  26. David Chiu authored the disasterous and unenforceable Airbnb legislation with the help of Airbnb lawyers. It’s strange that some mistake his payoff as “patience” or “deal-making.” The nature of democratic governance is compromise. The Chius and Weiners of the world would sooner line their pockets than do the hard work of governance.

  27. When leaders start pointing to specific groups as the source of our problems bad things start to happen. Trump does it with Mexicans and Muslims.

    Meanwhile, in San Francisco leaders like Campos, Mar and Peskin single out tech workers, proposing a tax on their jobs. There were already anti-techie signs being put up on street poles, these 3 weak leaders then supported the movement.

    The message from Trump, Peskin, Campos and Mar is exactly the same — your problems are caused by that group of people over there and we need to do something to them.

    Progressives have no right to complain.

  28. David Chiu was called a moderate and a lot of other bad names too. But as he wrote himself, he’s called an ultra-liberal in Sacramento. He’s a liberal who has the patience for the nitty-gritty of deal-making, compromise, and actually getting things accomplished. Wiener will be the same in Sacramento. A hard-working politico. Jane Kim would have done a lot of posturing and posing in her karate outfit, and accomplished nothing.

  29. “Progressives” like Tim supported a “Die Teche Scum” approach to the ballot and supported physically assaulting Asian Tech Workers. Now they are surprised they lost. Hate is not a San Francisco value Tim, I don’t know why you think it is.

  30. The Wiener campaign was everything we learned to hate in Republican campaigns: lies, innuendos, avoiding issues, presenting your own baggage as your opponent’s. All backed by a ton of corporate money. He’ll be diluted in Sacramento and we won’t hear from him as much, at least, but with people like Wiener and perhaps Newsom, California Democrats are setting the ground, slowly, for the day when they have little moral standing and make themselves vulnerable to Republican attack, as has happened elsewhere.

    Clinton isn’t as bad, and Sanders isn’t as good, as you portray them. The Democratic platform was the most liberal in decades, unabashedly so. Obama finally figured out that compromising with the Republicans was fruitless. Clinton understood it, and would have been the first Democratic president in decades to start off that way. Sanders is inspirational, but he had run out of steam in the primaries, and couldn’t keep the enthusiasm going.

    The support to supervisors was odd. I doubt either Sanders or Clinton had time to study in detail the careers of Wiener and Kim. What is significant is their political connections: who they listened to, and who tipped them to recommend these candidates. I think Clinton did have the problem of being tied to the corporatist Democrat network (perhaps someone like Newsom or Feinstein suggested that she recommend Wiener?) but she’s a much more decent person than Wiener and I don’t see her sharing his policies. On the other hand, I fault Sanders for supporting Prop. 61, which as a product of the odious Michael Weinstein was very suspect. He recommended it without enough research, I think (and the Bay Guardian, lamentably, followed his endorsement blindly without doing the research either.)

    In the future, I hope national candidates would stay out of local races which they don’t understand.

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