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You Don’t Need A Weatherman

Sep
20
2004

It’s not often that you can feel the gentle breeze turn into the winds of change but there were some indications of that Friday night at the Full Circle Fund’s “Full Impact Forum” up on Lone Mountain in San Francisco Friday night.
Full Circle – yes, they’re an advertiser – has long been a gathering place for folks who believe that ChangeTheWorld 2.0 should be political and civic involvement. As you know, ChangeTheWorld 1.0 was that thing we call the Internet which, not coincidentally made many of these people very wealthy. Lots of them are business-savvy and well-educated and most of them are young and many of them are well-intentioned. They may call themselves Democrat – most are likely they say they’re independents – but they’re really Progressive Libertarians.


This delectable combination of money and civic activism is great for any politician, particularly one taking the measure of how the Bay Area’s politics are going to change over the next few years. So San Francisco School Board member Heather Hiles was on the Forum panel. Oakland School Board president Greg Hodge was in the audience. And so was, most interesting of all, San Francisco Board of Supervisors President Matt Gonzalez. It’s not proof he’s not out of the game but when a rhetorical liberal like Gonzalez starts hanging around with the moderates at Full Circle something’s definitely up.
Something’s definitely up with a rabble-rouser (and I mean that in the nicest way) like Van Jones shows up and tell his audience that he and other anti-incarceration activists are going after – politically – the self-dealing power structure that is the state prison guards union.
Full Circle members aren’t exactly interesting in prison reform. Most of them don’t know any one who’s been to jail (not yet, anyway). And most of them, having been raising in the nation’s nicer suburbs, probably think more jails is a good thing. The crime mongering that white politicians have engaged in – particularly in California – has resonated with many folks who wouldn’t consider themselves “prejudiced.” But these Progressive Libertarians can be easily convinced that unions are working against their – and the state’s – best interests. And that’s a key part of Jones’ argument. Because Progressive Libertarians are convinced that unions have ruined California’s public schools. They’re worried about the state’s finances because they’re business oriented and they understand the relationship between debt and financial freedom. So Jones’ pitch – the unions did this – is falling on an audience in a mood to be receptive.
What does it mean? Well, good things for Gov. Terminator as he tried to revamp and reform the state’s administration; Jones is right about the prison guard union and the Progressive Libertarians are right about the teachers’ union. Just take a look – oh, look long and hard – at what’s going on in Contra Costa County. When the true Left and the moderate Left get together with the moderate Right, lots of things are possible. That’s the gentle breeze that’s blowing. For old-line California union Democrats this could turn out to be a tornado.
FOOTNOTE: It’s easy to confuse the nice-guy-and-gal suburban look that so many Progressive Libertarians sport with softness and the soft of feel-good nostalgia of the Left. Big mistake. Take a look at what Calforina Controller Steve Westly is doing with the non-profits that get money from the state. He’s cutting them off, saying his office can’t tell where they money’s going. In doing so, Westly’s also cutting off one of the state Legislature’s better hidden reward systems. Who runs the legislature? Democrats, that’s who, old-fashioned Democrats.

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