This is a tweet thread that I wrote on December 26th, 2021. It is 1,998 words, which Grammarly says is a 7 min & 57 second read time. If you have thoughts or reactions, please comment below.
Here is what confuses me about San Francisco.
We have the most liberal, left-wing government & population in the country. We have a $13B budget. And we have 8,000 people sleeping in the rain this week. Can someone please explain this to me?
What do progressives stand for, exactly? I thought it was about making things more fair. About standing up for the little guy. About human rights, equality (equity?), compassion. San Francisco (to me) looks like the least compassionate city on the planet.
The slums of Mumbai look cleaner than the streets of downtown SF. This isn't just the Tenderloin - it's SOMA, parts of the Mission, Dogpatch... We have thousands of people wandering around - looking like they are on the brink of death. This is why ppl use the term Zombie.
I've been a registered democrat for 18 years. I grew up in a Progressive family and went to a Progressive school, and have mostly Progressive friends. Yet what I see in SF - if this what Progressive stands for - I want the opposite.
The words used here: "harm reduction", "housing first", "criminal justice", "social justice", "equity" -- they don't align with what I'm seeing at all. Our strategy might as well be called "harm increased", "housing last", "victim injustice", "social injustice", "unfairness".
Yesterday I went for a drive in the rain. This is what is happening in San Francisco right now. I am sorry to force readers of this thread to bear witness to this, but I think it's important to acknowledge what we are all ignoring.
Where is our $13B going, exactly? How do we only have 3,000 shelter beds when 8,000 are unsheltered in the streets? How is this an American city?
I just finished the book San Fransicko. If you care about San Francisco - if you care about cities - if you care about America, give it a read.
I'm starting to develop a seriously dark view of the Progressive politicians in charge of our town. They have absolute power - act like a regime, and talk often of how "broken" the system is. Are the homeless their foot soldiers? Mascots? Mercenaries?
You have to wonder, with the funds we have as a city, state & nation - is this situation... on purpose? We saw what SF was capable of when pandemic hit. We had testing sites up in days. Hotels converted into shelter. Funds flowing. Yet here we are... Is this nefarious?
Progressives tend to blame Republicans for almost everything. Yet here we are - not a Republican in sight - and I think we may be the most deranged city on the planet. Nowhere is there such inequality. I have never seen destitution at this scale.
So here are my questions to Progressives -- + What do you stand for? + What do you believe? + What are your strengths as a political group? + Weaknesses? Why, after decades of Progressive rule in SF are 8,000 people in the streets? + Why do we have the highest overdose rate in the nation? + Why do we have the highest property crime rate? + Why do we have fewest children per capita? + What are the biggest "wins" of progressives in SF? + What are progressives most proud of here? + Who are the strongest public servants of the progressive party? + Why do you think we should continue on this path?
Recently I have been having flashbacks to Junior year when I ran for class representative and lost by five votes. My opponent promised candy vending machines, parties - all kinds of fun things. He won, and didn't do a darned thing all year.
Thought experiment -- what would San Francisco look like if Republicans were in charge? If moderates ran things? If we had two party rule instead of one?
Downtown is boarded up. The children of the Tenderloin are begging the Mayor to arrest drug dealers. Our school system is on the brink of state takeover. Our DA is completely over his skis and a defender at heart. We are in crisis. And - yes, we voted for this. We know.
We probably have more "Black Lives Matter" signs up than any city in the nation. 40% of our homeless people are Black. Do their lives matter...? Or is this just about virtue signaling and moral grandstanding?
This past Thursday afternoon I dialed into the Board of Supervisors meeting about the emergency order to refund the police. Our board sat through 10 hours of debate & public comment. It was astonishing. Caller after caller saying "defund the police."
The #1 "advocate" for the homeless, Jennifer Friedenbach - called in to say "Vote no on black lives don't matter!" She is the head of @TheCoalitionSF -- and has for decades fought against shelters - saying they warehouse people. She is for "housing first". Well - here we are.
I would really like to know if @fbach4 stands by her advocacy. I personally believe she is the person most responsible for this tragedy unfolding in our streets. But we are all responsible. We are allowing this insanity.
I'd also like to know why the loudest voices right now against changing our approach are all white progressive women. We have Kate Chatfield from the DA's office, Jennifer Friedenbach from COH, Hilary Ronen of D8. All yelling about defunding the police. What is this about?
Meanwhile our Mayor, who grew up in the projects of SF - and our Chief of Police (@SFPDChief) - two of the most thoughtful, kind & pragmatic people in SF - are asking for funds & help. And they are getting shouted down as racists? This is nuts!
Many people in SF came here to "change the world". They start companies, fight for causes they believe in, recycle & compost, invest in "green" products. This is all wonderful, but what about the humanitarian crisis in our backyard?
I've been thinking a lot recently about the concept of "Civic Duty." What is our responsibility as a citizenry? What is "civil society"? What does it mean to "contribute" to your neighborhood, city, state, nation?
One of my friends recently woke up to find a homeless person sleeping on the front step of her multi-million dollar home. I asked her what she did. "We closed the blinds." I think this is such a metaphor for what's going on here. San Francisco is turning its head.
San Franciscans believe they are righteous because they pledge allegiance to the righteous tribe - Democrats. They believe they are moral because they believe in higher taxes. They believe they are virtuous because they believe in big Government.
I am just so confused. If Progressives believe in big government then why aren't they doing the bare minimum - the minimum that even F.A. Hayek spoke of in "The Road to Serfdom" in 1944? He is a famous Libertarian, and believed in providing food, shelter & clothing.
So what is going on here? Is this all due to tribalism? Are San Franciscans so desperate to fit in, that they blindly follow the liberal/left-wing causes - even when they make no sense? The book Hate, Inc. suggests as such...
I get messages almost daily from ppl who say they are afraid to speak up for fear of professional ramifications. Some say they are even afraid to like my tweets. I'm afraid to ask questions about the vaccine on Twitter... What kind of "freedom" do we stand for out here?
In college I studied totalitarian governments and how they came to power. The similarities I see to many elements of society today are harrowing. The cancel culture, the "wrongthink", the adulation of "experts", the cultishness towards "science", the blind support by party.
We're more worked up over gerrymandering than we are about people dying in our streets. My friends in SF read article after article about Trump - and don't even know who their supervisor is. Since when did local politics become so "pedestrian" so as to not warrant attention?
I've been critiqued for showcasing SF's problems - told that I'm "fueling" the "Fox News Narrative." Accused of using "Trump-like" messaging to rile people up. Am I traitorous for drawing attention to our issues? Is my critique of Progressives unwarranted?
I've been tweeting about SF for about two years now. For a long time people kept asking me what my "goal" was. That question died down a while ago. Perhaps it's become clear? In case it isn't - my goal is to inspire civic engagement & interest in local politics.
My goal is to draw attention to San Francisco's government, issues & policies - because I think we can do better. This is my hometown. I think it's a very special place. San Francisco used to mean something. It stood for something. I was proud to be from here.
But today I feel ashamed. I feel ashamed of our values. I feel ashamed of our group think. I feel ashamed of our lack of civic engagement. I feel ashamed of the inequality. Of our wasted budget. Of the corruption, the grift & the greed.
We have some of the most educated people in the world living here. We have some of the wealthiest most productive companies in human history. We have beautiful homes, views, nature, weather... This should be a beacon of liberalism. This should be a city on a hill...
I'm tweeting because I'm trying to understand how things went so wrong. How we earned ourselves the nickname "Gotham." How our downtown streets started to look like a scene out of a dystopian movie. How we labeled a class of destitute people "zombies."
I have a hunch it has something to do with political tribalism... Mark Twain wrote, "To lodge all power in one party and keep it there is to insure bad government and the sure and gradual deterioration of the public morals.” Is this what's happening here...?
I'm exploring these issues because I don't want to see the rest of our country look like SF. What's happening here should be a warning about what happens when people pick a side & hate-vote against others. I'm considering pivoting my company, to focus on "the middle path."
What does it look like to be "radically moderate"? What does it mean to put political tribalism aside & work together? Is it possible? What does it look like to study the other side? To challenge your beliefs?
Why have I never learned about the case for gun rights? Or about the values of Islam? What are the arguments against abortion? Why do so many people not want to take the vaccine? Why am I not allowed to ask these questions without being accused of "doing harm"?
This week I'm doing a lot of thinking, writing & reading. My friends are posting on Instagram from their luxury hotels in Mexico & ski resorts. I put them all on mute. Something called to me this week to hunker down. I've been driving in the rain and thinking...
I'm trying to figure out why I care so much about all this - and why I'm spending so much time on Twitter. I think it's because I am trying to work something out. Trying to figure out how this relates to my company. Trying to see if I can find a way to merge it all together.
I *think* it's something about moderate values or moderation. Perhaps it's about balance, or a "middle path". Civil society? Civic duty? Civilization? Free thinking? Contrarian thought? Discourse?
My mind is swirling a bit. Could use some help & insight. I'm clearly quite upset about what I'm seeing in my backyard - both here in SF - but also more broadly in our country. If you have any ideas, or you relate - please do share. 🙏
Thank you for reading.
Video version here: