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    • Reasons For Hope (1): The Solutions Are Known
      Ok, this place has mostly been about how fucked we are, and how we’ve fucked up. Blame is more on our leaders than us, but as a species we’re on the hook. But there is cause of hope because mostly we know what we have to do. We know we have to reduce CO2 and Methane emissions. We even know mostly how. We pretend we don’t, because the how will involve changin […]
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“The Lessons of San Francisco”

I put that in quotes, because I don’t know if there are any lessons; or if there are, exactly what they are. But clearly it is another of the many stories which always lead to the same theme, “bad for Democrats.” Even though we are all greatly tired of it, this particular story is worth considering.

The vote on Tuesday in San Francisco removed three Democratic incumbents from the school board, with about 70% of the vote against them. Why? The general consensus is that “they were ‘too woke’ even for San Francisco.” There were other reasons, of course, the general frustration with the pandemic and the prolonged shutdown of schools there, as in so many places.

But a great deal of attention is being given to the fact that these officials were going wild in terms of trying to impose what some derogatorily like to call “social justice warriors” values on anything they could. A few examples: The Board had tried to change the names of 44 schools, based on either overwrought, or in many cases, misinformed beliefs that the people the schools were named for, were racists of some sort.

These included George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Paul Revere, and poet James Russell Lowell They also tried to remove Senator Feinstein’s name from a school. The board voted unanimously to paint over a mural entitled “The Life of Washington,” which had been on the wall of a local high school for over 80 years, claiming that it needed to be done because of “changing sensitivities.” This drew enough attention that the editorial board of the L.A. Times criticized it.

There were attacks on Asian-Americans, from one member of the Board, analogizing them to Black slaves who worked in the plantation house. The Board voted to end the merit-based admissions policy of a rather renowned high school, Lowell High School, citing “systemic pervasive racism,” and a lack of student diversity. This was ultimately overturned in court.

Those board members said that they “prioritized racial equality because that’s what they were elected to do.” But they were overwhelmingly defeated; and the mayor of San Francisco, London Breed, a Black woman, said that she agreed with the result, though I don’t know how specific she was as to reasons.

The current result of this is the attributions (and there are of course always attributions made as to the causes of election results, and they are usually made to the detriment of Democrats) that “even San Francisco is sick of ‘wokeness,’ and that this kind of radicalism will destroy the Democrats in future elections.” Fox was chortling, and there are other more rational sources which also point to the results as a symbol and harbinger.

So even if there were a variety of factors, the main media message cannot be ignored, because that is where most people get their knowledge of things. The Republicans seem to always “win the culture wars,” in every era. This is because they repeat their arguments relentlessly. They convinced much of an entire generation that they, the Republicans, were tough on Communism, while the Democrats were weak and appeasing. They convinced another generation that the Republicans were the party of “law and order,” while Democrats sanctioned rioting hippies (?), Black insurrection, and flag burning.

And now with a party which has abandoned the concept of economic policies, ideas about how to deal with gun violence, rapid climate change, and other such things, they focus entirely on social grievance, and paint Democrats as a group which supports Black people rioting and burning things; Critical Race Theory being taught in schools; various books which they claim “will indoctrinate people into socialism.”

They have no idea what socialism is, nor how it differs from the fascism they are apparently in favor of, but that is beside the point. They have the ability to paint a picture of horror, and convince enough voters that they must defeat all Democratic candidates. They of course also use the pandemic, inflation, anything which people don’t like, and blame it all on the Democrats, although they never have anything in the way of solutions. They feel like they don’t have to, all they need to do is to blame it all on Biden and Democrats.

This is pernicious, but effective, because you take the voters as you find them, and there are far too many who do not know much, nor do they want to. A recent article said that talking to potential voters found that most of them did not care one bit who the new Supreme Court nominee would be, and they didn’t know what was in the “Build Back Better” legislation. They basically are just tired of the pandemic, angry about things in general, and ready to blame Democrats for all of it.

Even with all of this, it seems undeniable that there is a segment of the Left which is damaging the Democratic Party and its chances to win elections. It is a sensitive subject, and I don’t want to overemphasize it, but I think that endless claims of “systemic racism,” and the exultation some people have in going after American historical figures like Washington and Jefferson, and now apparently even Lincoln, is costing us elections. And these people do not care. One such group posted about the results of the school board election, “Of course we knew it already, but white supremacy is alive and very well in San Francisco.”

There have always been people on the fringes of the Left. There were real socialists, and some communists; and Democrats would try to ignore or disavow the Communists, while realizing that some of the socialists were committed to important things, but would not get elected under that banner. But we now, and for some years, have had to deal with the Left also being comprised of some more radical Black people, the ones who would not turn out to vote for Hillary Clinton, particularly in Michigan, targeted by Trump, Bannon, and the Russians in that election, who managed to drive down Black turnout by disgracefully misrepresenting her past statements, and trying to contend that there was no difference between her and Trump on racial issues.

The TV anchor Joy Reid does not go that far, but right after the election for governor in Virginia, which was literally won on the phony issue of the teaching of Critical Race Theory in schools, her comment was that “maybe Democrats need to run more Black candidates.” Maybe they do, but I do not see that as being a valid conclusion drawn from that election, but she is going to see everything from the prism of her long-held viewpoint, as many people do.

Republicans seek to drive a wedge between Black and White Democrats. Meanwhile, they constantly run against Black Lives Matter, and highlight the events of the summer of 2020 as showing what will happen if Black people run things. Democrats in general rise to their defense, but the extremes of people like the school board members in San Francisco, and indeed some people in the journalistic media, play into the hands of the Right Wing. Some of this is what James Carville was talking about right after the Virginia and New Jersey elections, and of course many chose to derogate him for it, which by itself is part of the problem,

We can remember Bill Clinton’s campaign in 1992, and what some like to call “the Sister Souljah moment.” And he got heat for that, but it helped him, as he was being challenged by the media to give an example of where he disagreed with the more radical elements.

I am not saying that Biden, or any Democratic candidate, needs to do that, but somehow there needs to be a significant disassociation from what some like to call “woke culture.” If Democrats do not do it, they might feel like they are standing up for a cause, however they view it, but they will undoubtedly be losing more elections.

Because Republicans will always be targeting that extreme, not the candidates themselves, who thus become the collateral casualties of the Republicans’ newest version of the culture war. Whatever “wokeness” may mean, and it may be a vague or even unfair concept, it does not win very many elections. And if that is not seen as the point, then we are going to see a worse version of the national results from 1968-1992. And maybe there is nothing we can do about it at this point, but we should at least gather our collective forces, present a strongly united front, and make a great effort to avoid it.