Like the aliens in Independence Day, Donald Trump has done the impossible and united San Francisco. Except for the 37,000 Trump voters, who definitely live in the Marina and do Yaeger shots at MatrixFillmore, we realized that creeping fascism may be a more pressing calamity than bus lanes on Mission Street.
Even my hardened, cynical heart was moved by the unity of our dysfunctional, bickering city family and the resolution passed unanimously by the Board of Supervisors that declared our resolve to be a united front in defense of our values.
However, putting our soaring rhetoric into action raises awkward questions.
We want to remain a sanctuary to immigrants and to protect residents from deportation to their home countries. But we tolerate it when residents are deported to Fairfield. San Francisco doesn’t need to deport when evictions will suffice.
Trump’s ascent emboldened bigots to commit hate crimes from Trump Tower to BART. San Francisco will have difficulty defying white supremacy in Washington when we haven’t yet managed to stand up to racism in our own police department.
And when they yank federal funding for sanctuary cities? When the repeal of the Affordable Care Act punches a $30 billion hole in the California budget?
Around the world, voters have rejected technocratic elite governance in favor of right-wing populism. The Democrats failed to offer a compelling economic vision to motivate core Democratic constituencies to vote for Hillary Clinton in the numbers they voted for Barack Obama.
Many of the critiques of the Clinton campaign may sound familiar to San Franciscans, with our embarrassing claim to the nation’s fastest rising rate of inequality. If you’re sampling grilled sardines on Valencia, San Francisco is the greatest. If you’re trying to survive on a measly five figures, it’s easy to feel like city government is not for you.
If our politicians rise to the occasion and muster courage of a sort that politicians aren’t known for, California could emerge as the District 13 leading opposition to President Orange Snow. Here’s my challenge to City Hall, David Chiu, Scott Wiener and Phil Ting on how we can contribute to defeat Trumpism:
1. The way we stay a sanctuary and provide health care to everyone is by state and local government preparing to raise another $50 billion to offset the loss of federal funds. If that means repealing or amending Proposition 13, do it. If citizens see their services suffering to protect immigrants, there will be even more scapegoating. They want us to choose between immigrants and citizens in the budget, and we can’t fall for it. Companies that spent millions on recent elections should step up now. Ron Conway, Dede Wilsey and the Realtors can afford it.
2. While you have to drive an hour past strip malls to find a red county, our homegrown tech industry has gladly allowed hate groups to organize and fanned the flames of ignorance. When neo-Nazis are using technology from here to recruit, no one is more responsible than us. Since we give tech whatever they want, San Francisco should use every bit of leverage to hold internet companies accountable for promoting destructive policies that threaten our communities.
3. The election represents the culmination of a successful long-term right-wing strategy to institutionalize power. Citizens United, Voter ID laws, attacks on union rights, gerrymandering, overturning the Voting Rights Act and anti-immigrant policies were central to the conservative agenda because they make it easier for them to win. Progressives don’t play for power but must. Our leaders should prioritize statewide policies that strengthen and engage the constituencies that are the backbone of opposition to Trump and to Democratic victories, specifically immigrants, young people, unions, people of color and single women.
4. Finally, we must lead on climate change.
Our leaders should get ready to defeat the right with bold action to protect our communities and reduce inequality or step aside.
Nato Green is a San Francisco-based comedian and writer. See him headline the Punch Line, featuring Janine Brito on Dec. 28.