‘Give him a chance?” Give me a break. Many national Democratic Party leaders have joined with Republicans since Election Day to call on all of us to help Donald Trump get off to a good start in January. They tell us it’s “for the good of the country.” That’s exactly the kind of profoundly out-of-touch national Democratic Party leadership that led to an election debacle of historic proportions on Nov. 8. Exactly which of the outrageous things Trump said during the campaign — and the countless others that lobbyists and corporate interests are now drooling over doing — do they want us to help “give him a chance” to do?
Now is not the time to fall in line; it’s the time to stand up and fight back. It’s time to fight back not just against the coming attacks by the federal government on civil rights, immigrants, working people, environmental protection and so much more, but also to kick out the feckless national Democratic leadership and start fresh. As the Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club wrote to its members in the wake of the election results: “Make no mistake — the election of Donald Trump is a disaster. It also signals the necessity of grappling with the future of Democratic Party values to ensure we have a party that stands for progressivism and working people, not in service of elite and corporate interests.”
One bright light in a very dark political year was the overwhelming rejection by San Francisco voters of a corporate, lobbyist-controlled San Francisco Democratic Party in this past June’s election. When the voters swept out the real estate lobbyist-run group and instead elected a diverse set of reform-minded community leaders to lead the local Democratic Party, they created a template for the kind of clean-slate reform the Democratic National Committee and the national Democratic Party desperately needs right now.
Disenfranchised, economically insecure people will never be motivated to join a parade led by corporate Democrats whose core constituents are the wealthy elites who fund them. For example, why on earth did Gavin Newsom, who wants to be our next governor, spend his limited time and resources during this election doing robocalls, appearing in ads and working to oppose local good-government reforms on the San Francisco ballot that were supported by the S.F. Democratic Party instead of heading to Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania to focus those energies on stopping Trump? I’ll tell you why: Because tech mogul Ron Conway, the Chamber of Commerce and the real estate lobby asked Newsom to front their $3 million attack ad campaign against the good-government reforms. Newsom was successful in defeating them — but look at what was lost.
The last days of November always mark a somber but important moment for all of us who love San Francisco and see its past, present and future as chapters in a story that we are all a part of. Sunday, Nov. 27, will mark the 38th anniversary of the horrible City Hall assassinations of Supervisor Harvey Milk and Mayor George Moscone. Again this year, many of us who are inspired by their words and work will gather together at Harvey Milk Plaza at Castro and Market streets for a candlelight vigil and march to remember them and to renew our efforts to fight for the San Francisco they loved and we do, too. I have no doubt that if Harvey Milk were here today, he would not be falling in line to “give Trump a chance” but would be leading the charge to fight back, organize for the next election and support new political leadership that sides with real people, not corporate elites. When wondering what we do next, let’s begin with this focusing question: What would Harvey do?
Jon Golinger is an environmental attorney who lives in North Beach