Now, more than ever, San Francisco matters

In Trump's America, this city has to be a place where we don't let the rich and powerful rule everything

Eight years ago, I rode home from Election Night parties on my bicycle and had to stop, over and over, because people were out dancing in the streets to celebrate the election of Barack Obama.

Tonight, it was eerie: The streets were dead, and the people walking around were just shaking their heads. “I’m so depressed,” one person I role with for a while said. “I don’t know what to do.”

It’s really, really scary: The leader of the free world, it appears, is someone who doesn’t believe climate change is real, wants to deport more than 10 million people, thinks it’s okay to use nuclear weapons, and brags about sexually assaulting women.

Sup. Aaron Peskin and Democratic Party Chair Cindy Wu talk about how San Francisco values matter more than ever in a Trump America
Sup. Aaron Peskin and Democratic Party Chair Cindy Wu talk about how San Francisco values matter more than ever in a Trump America

And he’s got a Republican Senate to confirm his appointments to the Supreme Court.

We will have plenty of time to talk about what went wrong, but we can start with a simple statement: The Democratic Party, since the Bill Clinton era, has largely abandoned the working class in this country. For all the good Obama did, he’s made no progress in reducing the wealth gap. He hasn’t even talked much about it.

Bernie Sanders did, and he appealed to some of those millions of voters who were for Obama in 2008 and 2012 but were for Trump in 2016. Hillary Clinton did not.

So now, as Markos at DailyKos points out, “there’s no way to sugarcoat this. We’re in for a world of shit.”

But the Democratic Party is now going to have to change, profoundly, and even Markos, who was a strong Hillary person from the start of this election, is now saying: Bernie Sanders for DNC Chair.


It’s also more important than ever that San Francisco stay strong and not slip further into the world where money rules everything.

And right now, the results are mixed.

We won’t know final results for a few more days; there are a lot of election-day absentees still to count. But at this point, here’s what we can say:

The good news for progressives is that Josh Arce didn’t get elected to the Board of Supervisors in D9. The bad news is that it appears Ahsha Safai did in D11.

The good news is that Sandra Lee Fewer withstood a huge onslaught of real-estate and tech money and is winning in D1. Dean Preston did far better than everyone expected and is only a few percent behind Board President London Breed, who got a lot less than a resounding mandate for her re-election.

Norman Yee held onto the D7 seat. Aaron Peskin, of course, won easily.

The bad news again: Scott Wiener’s vicious attack ads and massive negative (and utterly misleading) campaign appears to have worked, and if things hold, he will become the next state senator.

Proposition D, which would have let the voters, not the mayor, decide who fills a vacancy on the Board of Supes, is failing, which means Mayor Ed Lee will fill the D8 seat with someone with similar politics to Wiener.

So the board looks like this:

For the progressives, Fewer, Peskin, Yee, Kim, Ronen. For the mayor’s agenda: Mark Farrell, Katy Tang, Breed, the New Wiener, Malia Cohen, and Safai.

Breed may have gotten the message, though: She moved a lot to the left during this campaign, and while I don’t expect she’ll join the progressives very often, she might be a swing vote now and then.

The Teachers’ Union slate seems to have won the Board of Education (that’s Matt Haney, Mark Sanchez, Stevon Cook, and Rachel Norton). Shanell Williams, who is very cool, running her first race for office, came in as the top vote-getter for Community College Board, and she will be joined by Rafael Mandelman, Alex Randolph, and Tom Temprano, who is now officially a rising star in the progressive movement.

The mayor was counting on passing Prop. K, a sales tax for transportation and homeless services, to balance his budget. But then instead of working for it, he put his efforts into defeating four modest reform measures that would have cut into his power – and some of his allies helped fund and promote Prop. Q, an attack on homeless people.

Their campaign attacked City Hall as wasting money. You say the government is wasting money and homeless people are a blight, and then you ask the public to vote to give you more money to help homeless people … and you are cutting your own throat. Which is what happened here.

For better or for worse, it does not appear that Ed Lee will be taking a job in the administration of President Hillary Clinton.

So now we have to organize, fight back, not give up — and recognize that cities are where the progressive agenda will emerge. San Francisco has an amazing, effective grassroots movement, and we will all have to wake up in the morning ready to work harder than ever — to make sure that this city doesn’t become a place where money matters more than people. We can show the rest of the country how to turn things around.

We have to. There’s no other choice.



  1. SF Dept of Elections says there are between 114,000 and 118,000 ballots still to be counted. Divide that by 11 districts and you get 10,000 votes minimum per district. Currently, Breed leads Preston by roughly 1700 votes. That is close. Claiming Breed is “safe” or that she won is premature.

  2. I am ready to begin being part of the process of keep SF progressive – where to start? Open to suggestions.

  3. I don’t think marriage equality is going anywhere, Obama deported more people than Bush, and his healthcare plan was falling apart anyway. But as bad as he was, Hillary would have been much worse. I can enumerate the reasons why in great detail, but that’s a pointless excersize. The point is, people like me don’t buy your lesser of two evils rubbish. There may not be many of us, but there are just enough to make you lose. You’re not going to agree, and you don’t have to agree. Hate me, call me selfish. Call me arrogant. Call me self righteous. I don’t give a shit.

    The bottom line is, if the Democratic Party finds a candidate who inspires people like me -by addressing core issues of economic inequality and militarism -then I will stand with you and fight with you. If they don’t -if they don’t learn their lessons by 2020, then enjoy 8 years of Donald Trump instead of 4 years.

  4. I don’t think that’s true at all. I think progressives simply aren’t out there pushing big issues in a big way. Bernie was one of the only few. The trend is nationalism, anti-establishment, and the fears that go along with uncertainty. When your only option is an establishment party made of elite members that feels rigged against you, you vote for the other candidate. Obama won with a strong appeal for change in a very positive way. Trump won with a strong appeal for change in a very negative way. People don’t feel like they’re being heard, and we need strong candidates that listen, fight, and give us a path. Right now, only the extreme right is doing that. We need a strong progressive left that can do the same.

  5. Mine? SF’s only tax raising authority is on sales taxes and those are extremely regressive. To make up for the $2 billion in federal funding sales taxes would need to be hiked around 100% – so enjoy paying a 19.75% sales tax sucka.

  6. Yu look down on those without college degrees and feel you are superior to them? That the elitist attitude that got Trump elected.

  7. The Democratic party does need to change because it should have been a landslide. Hillary Clinton has too many enemies, too much baggage, rubs too many people the wrong way…She may have been the corporate favorite and the favorite of party leaders, but a really qualified charismatic Democratic candidate could have won easily. Most people think she is untrustworthy and she doesn’t have the attraction with the under 40 demographic Obama does.
    Who knows what Trump will do? He acts like a conservative, but is a true New Yorker – New York is a very liberal city. no one knows for sure what he will try to do or what Congress will let him get away with. The Baby Boom generation of political leaders are going out with a bang…

  8. “Communists” AKA Progressives, are being rejected in South America and Europe. SF Progressive are still with us.

  9. Don’t put words in my mouth I didn’t say. It’s not funny. I any of the leading voices BS you made up comes back to haunt me I’ll have lawyers on you like stink on ship from now until hell freezes over.

  10. The Republican Party just elected a mean misogynist vindictive asshole who beat up on undocumented immigrants (as well as San Francisco) and aggressively courted the religious right, alt right (including racists and anti-semites)

    “Listen to some of these guys; they sound almost mean,” Epstein says of the party’s leading voices. “We need to get away from that. There are some people, ‘If you’re not with us on every conservative thing, on every social issue, every political issue, we don’t want you around.’ We’ve got to get away from that, too, or weed some of those people out.”

    He continues: Lay off the social issues — “two guys get married, two gals get married, I’m not going to turn gay the next day” — quit beating up on illegal immigrants and stop trying to impose the religious views of a particular faith on voters.

    “You have fundamentalist Christians, Jews of all type,” Epstein says. “It’s tough to say everybody’s got to believe in our Christian values.”

  11. President-elect Trump and the Republican Party won big time, fair & square. Deplorables like me are looking forward to four years of real economic growth and real reforms. Now that it’s legal, you should buy a lid or two and stay stoned for the next four or eight years.

  12. Don’t know about thousands of votes, but your point here is correct. Ronen and Breed are safe, but in the other races there are enough votes for other candidates, if used in RCV fashion, to determine who wins.

  13. …that’s the arrogance…which ushered this defeat…the dems ushered nothing..the people did that…but don’t worry…the same consultants, experts, insiders, talking heads who blew this election..will be hired again by the dems..for the exact same positions…why?… they are qualified…

  14. The Democratic party enabled marriage equality, deferred deportation and healthcare for 22 million people. The second and third are now gone within 30 days of Trump’s inauguration and the first will probably fall within 5-10 years. So I see the comparison you made is quite apt, isn’t it?

  15. Yeah, well it’s going to come back in fashion when neoliberals fail to deliver on making people’s lives better. But if you do succeed in crushing people’s natural egalitarian aspirations, then that opposition will take on a darker tone, and you open the door to right wing demagoguery, like you saw last night. The anger over declining living standards that elite-brokered “democracy” has saddled us with will find an outlet, one way or another.

  16. Progressives/socialists/communists are being rejected in South America and Europe. The trend apparently has yet to reach SF. But there is hope.

  17. There seems to be an anti-progressive/socialist/communist trend worldwide that has yet to reach San Francisco. The plight of the working class is only part of it.

  18. the supes races in D1, 7, and 11 are way too close to call yet. there are some thousands of uncounted votes in each, and the outcome of RCV is unpredictable. the progs could win all three, or lose all three. Tim, you should know better!

  19. On local races, I never fail to be impressed by Tim’s boundless optimism, but anyway you spin this, it’s a big loss for progressives. And it’s one that’s at least partly due to progressives own making. Props D, H,L, and M all appear to be going down, and I’m not sure what more could have been done to help that… short of having Bernie at the top of the ticket driving turnout, instead of the execrable Hillary Clinton.

    But supe races were very winnable, but for progressives failure to build coalitions. Dean Preston could have won D5, but progressive leaders like Jane Kim and Aaron Peskin decided not to lift a finger to help him. Jane in particular, put her career interests ahead of the movement. It’s a far cry from the days of 2000 when Matt Gonzalez shut down his campaign the weekend before the election, and told all his volunteers to go to D1 and walk for Jake. That year, Matt won, and Jake won. This year, Kim lost, and Dean lost.

    United we stand, divided we fall.

    Similarly, the Greens approached Kim Alvarenga to have her push her supporters for ranked choice voting. She said no, putting herself ahead of the movement. And she proceeded to run a milquetoast campaign. Unlike Avalos, she failed to ignite anyone’s passion, and she failed.

    And btw… we may not even win D1 after ranked choice is counted, which was supposed to be a gimme.

  20. Tim’s on point when he says the Democratic Party needs to change.

    I know the party dogs don’t want to hear “I told you so” from us Berniecrats, but it’s a message they need to hear. Full disclosure: I enthusiastically contributed and voted for Sanders, and then voted for Jill Stein in the general. And yes, I’m proud of that vote. And yes, I would’ve voted for Stein had I been in Florida or Michigan. And yes, I will do it again if the Democratic Party EVER tries to shove someone as despicable as Hillary Clinton down our throats EVER again.

    Depending on how the question was asked, anywhere from 15% to 60% of Bernie supporters didn’t vote for Hillary. Some of us voted third party, some didn’t vote and thereby hurt downticket races, some voted but left the presidential race blank, and yes indeed some voted for Trump. KPFA reported last night that Trump got about 56% of the Union vote in Ohio. I personally know people in all those categories. Bernie would have won all of them. Bernie would have swept those midwest states, because Bernie was the real deal.

    This is a tough, tough lesson for the Democratic Party establishment to learn, but learn it they must.

  21. I think if Bernie Sanders had won the primary we wouldn’t be in this position.

    I’m disappointed that Dean Preston and Jane Kim didn’t win. I’m going to keep working hard to get progressives elected.

  22. Hmmm – I wonder what SF is going to do when Congress passes and President Trump signs, the bill ending federal funding for cities and counties with sanctuary measures? Because this city is not going to be able to absorb a $2 billion dollar hit to its budget. And Obama was all that stood between us and that fate earlier this year.

  23. Good to see that someone is feeling optimistic. At we had some good news today. Federal Court Upholds SF Ordinance Regulating Airbnb, Short-term Rental Platforms.

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