Monday, July 09, 2018

Defining "socialism" for District 5 and San Francisco

Dean Preston's announcement the other day that he's a socialist seems like a mistake, since he now has the added burden of explaining what that means, along with telling District 5 voters where he stands on local issues.

From the Washington Monthly
...Bernie Sanders has only made things murkier by defining his brand of socialism in terms hardly indistinguishable from New Deal liberalism. “I don’t believe the government should own the corner drugstore or the means of production,” he declared in the fall of 2015, at a speech at Georgetown University, “but I do believe that the middle class and the working families who produce the wealth of America deserve a fair deal.” 

But while the meaning of American socialism in 2018 begins with Bernie, it doesn’t end there. Every political movement needs an intellectual movement, and when it comes to today’s brand of socialism, it’s the thirty-five-and-under crowd doing much of the heavy lifting...

They’ve got a double challenge. The first is to convince skeptical Americans that, despite what they may have learned in high school, socialism doesn’t have to mean Stalinism, and it doesn’t lead inexorably to the gulags of Soviet Russia or the starvation of Nicolas Maduro’s Venezuela. 

The second may be even trickier. They must explain how their version of socialism fits, or doesn’t, into the American political system while showing how, specifically, it is distinct from traditional Democratic Party liberalism. In other words, they must not only defend socialism in the twenty-first century; they must define it...
If Bernie Sanders can't tell us how his brand of socialism differs from Democratic Party liberalism, what makes Preston think he can?

Of course city "progressives"---that is, left-wing Democrats---will be happy to embrace the meaningless terminology, since they like anything that distinguishes them from other Democrats, like Hillary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi, and me.

Not surprising that Tim Redmond is pleased:
Preston has already been endorsed by Supervisors Hillary Ronen, Aaron Peskin, and Jane Kim; former D5 Supervisors Matt Gonzalez and Christina Olague, Democratic Party Chair David Campos; former Assemblymember Tom Ammiano; and former Mayor Art Agnos. By announcing his run before Breed names her replacement, Preston has made it clear that he’s not running against any individual---he’s running in favor of a political agenda. And since he won 48 percent of the vote in 2016, running against the incumbent board president, he will be formidable.
What exactly is Preston's "agenda"? He was a one-issue candidate in 2016 and didn't try very hard to distinguish himself from a bumbling London Breed on the issues.

Hillary "Hairball" Ronen, Aaron "Highrise" Peskin, Jane Kim, Matt "Graffiti" Gonzalez, and Tom "Masonic Avenue" Ammiano! 

That is, Preston's agenda will be more of the "progressive" agenda, which is bad news for San Francisco.

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At 9:27 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If politicians cannot explain what they "stand for" in one sentence which everyone can understand then they do not know themselves.

At 10:34 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Preston's talking about an undefined "socialism" is designed to make it impossible for anyone to flank him on the left. The implication: being a merely liberal Democrat isn't good enough. But will voters in District 5 be impressed?

The last time ultra-leftism was an issue in the city: ten years ago when the election of Barack Obama made being a Democrat fashionable again in San Francisco: see Prog rats abandon sinking Green Party ship.


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