by Ed Driscoll
The Limits of San Francisco Liberalism. If Chesa Boudin is recalled, it will be because his city has never been its left-wing caricature.
Modern San Francisco, unlike New York, does not rest on the legacy of a social-democratic state forged with New Deal largesse. There are no Fiorello La Guardias or Robert Wagners lurking in the city’s history. From 1912 to 1963, only Republicans governed San Francisco, and they were largely backers of big business who could occasionally draw support from organized labor. The first nonwhite person to win an election in 20th-century San Francisco, Willie Brown, did not enter office until 1965. Despite San Francisco’s reputation as a liberal nirvana, proud progressive governance came and went quickly. George Moscone was assassinated along with Harvey Milk in 1978. Art Agnos, another liberal Democrat, lost his reelection bid to Frank Jordan, a Democratic former police chief, in 1991.
A right-leaning, if conventional, business Establishment held great sway over San Francisco politics until tech, with its billions, subsumed much of it in the 21st century. Tech money is more formidable than anything a local developer or bank could deploy. Silicon Valley employees, drawn from across America and now fully settled into San Francisco, are an influential slice of the electorate, directly replacing working-class votes. To them, homelessness is more an aesthetic annoyance than a humanitarian catastrophe. Among wealthy San Franciscans, the indignity is tangible — if an extraordinary price is going to be paid to live in Presidio Heights or the Marina District, how can visible poverty be imposed on such a supposedly idyllic lifestyle?
As Jim Treacher likes to say:
For New York magazine, that’s true even in a city that hasn’t elected a Republican mayor since 1963.
In 1970, when Tom Wolfe was a contributor at the then-embryonic New York magazine, he wrote “Radical Chic: That Party at Lenny’s,” his classic article excoriating Leonard Bernstein and other wealthy New Yorkers’ dalliance with corrosive far left politics. Today’s New York magazine has now become what Wolfe once satirized: