Monday, May 04, 2015

The intellectually bankrupt "moderates"

The Chronicle's Heather Knight grapples with how to define political tendencies in the rapidly gentrifying city (What’s in a name for Democratic moderates and progressives?):

Another new club, the Progress Democratic Club, was also chartered and created a bit of a stir. Joel Engardio, a moderate who lost to Supervisor Norman Yee in the last District 7 election, read prepared remarks to the DCCC to announce his new club.

“The dictionary definition of progress is forward movement, continuous improvement,” he told them. “We need to embrace the future, embrace change and manage it with commonsense solutions"...

These days, it’s the moderates who support the city’s rapid change...And it’s the progressives who see the rapid change as alarming and wish the city could return to its glory days, when regular people could afford to live here.

Engardio told us after the club meeting, “Moderates are the true progressives now in San Francisco. Looking backward and being stagnant and yelling at history to stop happening isn’t going to solve our present day issues. The dictionary definition of progress is forward movement, continuous improvement,” he told them. “We need to embrace the future, embrace change and manage it with commonsense solutions.”

Engardio sounds like a grade school student eager to show the teacher he can use the dictionary.

Last year Engardio, an Examiner columnist, wrote what he apparently saw as a manifesto for city moderates (Rallying Cry for SF Moderates) that I wrote about at length here.

Engardio doesn't really propose a "commonsense" solution to single one of "our present day issues" in San Francisco. Instead he thinks the free market should be left alone to produce housing, as if no one has ever considered that well-worn pseudo-idea before. 

Since housing prices are higher every day in SF, producing more market-rate housing does nothing to solve the problem---that is, if you think radical gentrification is a problem. Apparently Engardio doesn't. (It's a tip-off that Engardio and the moderates supported the 8 Washington project on the waterfront that was resoundingly rejected by city voters.)

The so-called moderates have a website that has windy, bromidic mission statements surely written by Engardio:

As SF Moderates, we are truly progressive by dictionary definition. We are forward-thinkers who advocate for progress. We embrace change that can improve lives. Too often, San Francisco’s so-called progressive establishment fights to keep things as they were, promoting failed policies that only make living here more difficult. In San Francisco, moderate means common sense. We’re socially liberal and fiscally responsible. We are sympathetic to both sides of an issue as we seek pragmatic solutions that work for everyone.

A definition of an Engardio-style "moderate" in San Francisco: Someone who pretends to be all things to all people but who is really just a pro-development Democrat---or, just as likely, a Republican---who's liberal on some social issues (Engardio is gay).

Engardio's idea of common sense is building a tunnel under Geary Boulevard from downtown to the avenues---and do it for only $1.6 billion! Since the Central Subway will cost taxpayers $1 billion a mile, $1.6 billion would barely get his tunnel out of downtown. If you oppose that nutty idea, Engardio thinks you're someone who "deplores change."

At least the city's "progressive establishment" understands that gentrification is a big problem. I think city progs have been a massive intellectual failure in dealing with important city issues, but Engardio and the moderates aren't doing any better.

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