One, solitary finger has some San Francisco Democrats flipping out.
Jen Snyder, the take-no-prisoners campaign manager for Democratic Socialist supervisor candidate Dean Preston, flipped “the bird” to the San Francisco Democratic Party Wednesday night after her candidate lost their endorsement.
The perceived backroom deals, the perceived betrayal by one-time allies, and the Wednesday night endorsement of the progressive-aligned Party’s perceived political opponent — District 5 Supervisor Vallie Brown, an ally of moderate Democrats — all gave Snyder cause to give the Party a piece of her mind.
When I asked her if extending her middle finger to the Dems, a board made up of politicians, apparatchiks and other functionaries, was more of a “fuck off” or a “fuck you,” she answered decisively.
“It was definitely a ‘fuck you,’” she said.
But her decision to give our local Dems the bird — while certainly something many have undoubtedly contemplated, perhaps with a grin — sent local political circles into a tizzy, which has subsequently spilled out onto social media.
That’s an obvious example of policing the behavior of women, Snyder and her allies have said.
It’s a reaction rampant as women climb into successful positions. Even tennis star Serena Williams, who after drawing public critiques for exchanging hot words with an umpire said publicly “I’ve always stood up for myself, and I will always stand up for myself,” according to Fast Company.
For those who didn’t stay up until midnight, the SF Dem Party voted to solo endorse @suzyloftus for District Attorney and @VallieBrownD5 for D5 Supervisor. Below, a picture of D5 Candidate Dean Preston and his staff member giving the middle finger to the SF Dem Party leadership. pic.twitter.com/XAVkGE0iX3
— Bay City Beacon (@BayCity_Beacon) August 29, 2019
Just ten days ago, City College Board of Trustees member and candidate Ivy Lee stood up in City Hall and defended the need to name a new Muni subway station after organizer Rose Pak, who was known across The City for her sharp tongue and biting wit.
“We need more Rose Paks. We need women who are not afraid to say, ‘I’m not going to smile more, I’m not going to be nice, I’m going to fight like hell to protect my community,’” Lee said.
But not every woman who speaks out sharply is lionized, as Pak frequently is.
After the Democratic Party meeting, Democrats clapped back at Snyder quick. Some, like Board of Education commissioner Rachel Norton, went public with their critiques.
“Another sour note was when @DeanPreston’s staffer gave us all the finger when he didn’t get the #2” endorsement, Norton tweeted Wednesday night. “I get that it’s really tough to work hard and come up short, and I also know from personal experience that (Democratic Party) members sometimes go back on their commitments at the last minute.”
But, Norton added, “it’s revealing nonetheless to see how someone reacts to losing a fair fight.”
In the same Twitter conversation thread, earlier on, Norton praised the rise of girls and moms stepping up as “leaders” and called out sexism in San Francisco.
Preston not only lost the SF Democratic Party board endorsement — he only garnered a single vote in his favor — but he lost the bid to block Brown’s endorsement when he sought to have his progressive allies vote “No Endorsement” instead.
That tactic was squashed by pressure from Mayor London Breed, Preston claimed publicly, who made her position known to particular sitting members of the Dem board.
That no endorsement tactic was also tanked when progressive Supervisor Sandra Lee Fewer broke ranks to vote for Brown. Some insiders characterized that vote as a side-bonus after Brown voted to support Supervisor Norman Yee for board president in January.
Brown denied that claim and said, “there was no deal for Yee’s presidency. I voted for Yee because we needed someone on the Board of Supervisors that can herd the cats and build consensus.”
Regardless, Snyder took umbrage at the Democratic Party’s vote and made her feelings known.
The Bay City Beacon, a publication with ties to moderate-leaning Democrats, tweeted a screenshot of Snyder giving the Dems the finger from a Facebook Live video of the meeting.
But it’s revealing nonetheless to see how someone reacts to losing a fair fight.
— Rachel Norton (@rpnorton) August 29, 2019
Some immediately rebuked her, calling Preston and his supporters “mean.” Diane Le, development director for Emerge America, a group that coaches Democratic women to become leaders, tweeted sarcastically “such class.”
Shanti Singh, who used to work for Preston at Tenants Together and is a former co-chair of the San Francisco chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America, said she’s been policed in this way too.
“I realize I have a little bit of a reputation as an Angry Brown Socialist Woman myself in local political circles,” she told me Friday. A lot of people make jokes about it,” she said.
Singh not only is told to be more agreeable but often gets criticized for supporting a white man as a candidate. She said that she would rather support politicians with the best policies to uplift women and people of color, than simply voting for someone with policies she finds lacking for identity purposes alone.
She points out that by that metric, Democrats should be fond of Condoleeza Rice, or Margaret Thatcher, to hell with their conservative politics.
“I do think that a lot of these standards of decorum and this selectively applied warped version of identity politics are often weaponized to put the left in its place,” she told me.
Dean is a prick. It is hard to win elections if most people don’t like you.
— Jim Ausman (@SanFranciscoJim) August 31, 2019
She’s got at least one fan: local illustrator David Hellman. When Singh put out the call on Twitter for someone to memorialize the flipped-bird photo, Hellman readily obliged.
“It seemed like a funny but also bold and cool moment to immortalize,” Hellman said.
Despite getting a sea of smacks from the internet elsewhere, Snyder was fairly non-plussed.
“I’m a strong, fiery, opinionated social activist woman. No one’s asked me to be classy before,” she said.
Snyder grew up briefly on 24th Street in the Mission before moving to El Sobrante, and was a field consultant helping to pass the landmark 2018 tax measure to raise money for homelessness, “Our City, Our Home.” She told me she’s weathered far more harrowing moments than this.
Still, she finds it funny that those policing her behavior tend to be other women.
“I guess I just think it’s interesting that folks like women in politics so much these days, but not when they’re uppity and flippin’ the bird,” she said.
On Guard prints the news and raises hell each week. Email Fitz at firstname.lastname@example.org, follow him on Twitter and Instagram @FitztheReporter, and Facebook at facebook.com/FitztheReporter.