Well, it's one day to go before we all stampede to the polls and pick the person we will be blaming for everything for the next four years. As we roll towards this auspicious date, I stop to think about something strange that has happened over the last year: apparently, I am "a conservative."
Don't get me wrong, I get called all sorts of things every week. But it was the accusations of being a conservative that made me start to wonder about the state of San Francisco politics. Well, wonder more than I normally do.
Now, you can imagine how surprised I was to find this out. I am one of those rare "born and raised" folks here in San Francisco. I also have been a lifelong San Francisco Democrat, so this "conservative" label that people have been trying to affix to my coat like a scarlet letter had me understandably confused.
Maybe it's just that what it means to be a San Francisco Democrat has changed over time. Traditionally, a San Francisco Democrat was socially liberal, fiscally conservative. These days in the crazy ward, that apparently turns you into a Republican. Being a San Francisco Democrat means that sometimes you make decisions on Election Day that drive other Democrats out of their collective minds.
This thought came home as I was having breakfast the other day with Mike Garcia, who is running to replace Sean Elsbernd in District 7. This has been an interesting race to follow, not just because Sean is another San Francisco Democrat who gets called "a conservative" all the time because he has a passing interest in what things cost in this town.
Mike also has an interesting take on the current state of affairs because he served on the Board of Appeals here in San Francisco. Every time you hear about someone filing an environmental appeal at the last second to block a project, every time a family building a new room gets stymied, every time someone files to stop the new soccer fields in Golden Gate Park, it winds up at the Board of Appeals.
To put it in the nicest way possible, every piece of legislation from our Board of Supervisors is born in a cauldron of altruistic desire and ennobled with a future of promise and prosperity. And every time the law of unintended consequences does its inevitable jig on top of it, it winds up in the laps of people like Mike Garcia.
It sounds kind of refreshing to elect someone who has seen firsthand the result of poorly thought-out legislation. Especially when we seem prone to not thinking things through. Every time I see a big, fat six figure check get issued by the city for losing a legal challenge, it makes my little fiscal conservative hairs stand on end. Over the last few years, we have had Supervisors pass laws they knew were going to get shot down in court with the inevitable payout from the city. In one case last year, a certain Supervisor even said that "this is a risk I am willing to take on this particular issue." That's right folks: she knew she was taking a stand on public financing that would cost us in the end, but she was willing to risk it.
Except she wasn't risking anything now, was she? She wasn't gambling with her money, she was gambling with ours. If that is a progressive, then yes, I have a problem. And if that makes me a conservative, then so be it, because last time I checked we don't have a budget right now that can withstand this kind of silliness.
This city is at a weird place, where playing with other people's money is okay, where our Supervisors have become so entitled that one of them can decide to take all last week off to campaign for the election and no one seems to give a damn. Well, I give a damn, and I think it's time that they start realizing they work for us, not their dreams and desires. It's our dreams and desires that should be their focus, not an agenda based on Happy Meals, plastic bags and resolutions commenting on actions in far away lands.
We have enough problems in this land right here. I have always resisted the call to public office, even though I have been asked before. I know myself well enough to know that me and politics would be a match made in hell. I also am very aware of the legacy my father built, and the responsibility I have to that name. And that is also why I have never endorsed a candidate, because it always seemed like I was using someone else's accomplishments for my own purpose.
But this time it's different. As much as we look to the presidential election as a pivotal moment for this country, I also think this is a pivotal moment here in the 49-acre woods. So I am doing something I have never done before. I am endorsing Mike Garcia for District 7.
No, I do not live in District 7, so you can commence throwing things at me right now. Once a Supervisor is elected, however, he represents all of us. He passes legislation that affects every family in San Francisco. Every business in San Francisco. And every street in San Francisco. So for the first time, I am publicly supporting a candidate who I think will watch over our wallets, our families, and our futures. And if you want to call me a conservative, that is your prerogative. I am just going to keep calling myself a San Franciscan.