SF's newest political pole gets a new name: Moderate progressives

Image from Sick Puppies album (Virgin Records)

A Daily Kos blogger known as Kurykh has posted an interesting and insightful “crash course in San Francisco politics,” in which he correctly identifies the tri-polar dynamic of local politics. Everyone knows the progressives (Ammiano, Avalos, the Guardian) and the so-called moderates (Wiener, Ma, the Chronicle), and so Kurykh dubs the rising third pole (Chiu, Kim, Mayor Lee) “moderate progressives.”

He calls them “the new kids on the block,” noting that they sided with progressives in 2008 but ushered in a new political reality by siding with the moderates in 2010, now serving essentially as the swing votes on major issues and projects.

“Like other progressives, they are pro-tenant and advocate for more social services to the poor. However, they have pro-business and pro-development tendencies and tend to focus on streamlining bureaucracy and effective government,” he wrote of the moderate progressives.

Personally, I think a more accurate label for this rising new power center is “neoliberal” (I just called them “liberals” in my own San Francisco political primer that I wrote a year ago), a political term describing the belief that any reforms or progress needs to be negotiated with capitalists and corporations instead of coming directly through taxes or regulations.

And I think it underestimates the influence that so-called “moderates” who are actually quite conservative when it come to finances and land use – people like Lee fundraiser Ron Conway and Planning Commissioner Michael Antonini – have in influencing Lee and shaping politics in the city.

But I welcome this contribution to helping San Franciscans understand the political dynamics that are governing this city.


I caught that article on DK too, and I was thinking... "meh." Big shoulder shrug. Some dude writes his perspective on SF politics. Didn't imagine for a minute that there'd be a column about it in the SFBG.

But since there is... for what it's worth, on one level I think it's amateurish, in that it tries to stuff the square pegs of facts into round holes of opinion into which they simply will not fit.

Eric Mar a "moderate progressive?" Please. I have my differences with Mar, but a couple bad votes aside, Mar is squarely in the progressive camp.

And then putting Ed Lee in the same camp as Eric Mar? Talk about trying to stuff a square peg into a round hole!

And the part about turnout I found a little bizarre. The author claims that progressives do better when the turnout is lower in SF. I simply don't think that's true. There's a reason why the mod/right always likes to put their initiatives on the low-turnout ballots.

But before dismissing the article as merely "amateurish" or "naive," one has to make the observation that in places where the author is wrong, the errors are not random, but in fact all point to one particular bias. It would seem that the author isn't just trying to make a neutral "lay of the land" type assessment (however ineptly), but to subtly drive a wedge in the progressive movement. If the SFBG is going to take note of this and amplify it, then I think you need to put a little more analysis into it.

That said, I still can't understand why you chose to amplify it at all. I think the proper response to a diary on DK written by "some dude" and chock full of inaccuracies, would have been... nothing at all.

Posted by Greg on Nov. 26, 2012 @ 8:40 am