By Matt Valenti
What do school bathrooms have to do with San Diego’s mayoral candidates?
Well, some of the same people who brought us Proposition 8 are at it again, having gathered enough signatures to place an initiative on the 2014 ballot that would repeal California’s transgender students’ rights bill. That law is to take effect in January and will provide transgender students with equal access to school programs and facilities.
The conservative proponents of the repeal initiative call the transgender law the “Bathroom Bill,” and claim it will lead to students falsely pretending to be transgender so as to invade the bathrooms and locker rooms of the opposite sex – despite there being no evidence this actually occurs.
But if there’s to be a law meant to prevent people from passing themselves off as something they’re not, perhaps it should be a law to prevent conservative Republicans from passing themselves off as progressives. This is a phenomenon that San Diego has seen a lot of lately.
What we need is a local ballot initiative we could call “Proposition F,” after the two mayoral candidates who are the worst offenders: Nathan Fletcher and Kevin Faulconer.
Proposition F would put a stop to casual party-hopping like that practiced by Fletcher. Just two weeks before leaving the GOP, he told the Republicans who were gathering to select their 2012 mayoral candidate “I’ve been a Republican my entire life, which is telling because I came out of a Democratic household.”
(In other words, he’s someone who grew up around Democrats, was socially conditioned to be a Democrat, and yet always felt like he was actually a Republican deep down inside.)
Fletcher went on to brag to his fellow Republicans that he was “very proud to have a long and committed track record with this Party and with this cause,” including when “I stood and voted for an all-cuts budget, not one that reduced welfare but one that eliminated it.”
Republicans passed Fletcher over, however, and picked Carl De Maio as their nominee for mayor. But Fletcher stayed in the race anyway, because he was, as he told his GOP brethren, “torn between what is in my best interest and what is in the best interest of this Party.” This “committed” Republican then ran as an Independent before quickly deciding that he was a Democrat after all.
And it’s déjà vu all over again this time around. During Fletcher’s latest run for mayor, he’s launched attack ads on his Democratic opponents, claimed he will stand up to big business while collecting a paycheck for his lucrative sinecure at Qualcomm, and promised only to “have a conversation” about every major issue rather than taking a meaningful stand, much less a progressive one.
But lest you think I’m unfairly singling out Fletcher, let’s talk about that other Prop F candidate, Kevin Faulconer.
Faulconer, at least, hasn’t dropped out of the Republican Party in an effort to mislead progressive voters – yet. Instead, he’s taken the far safer route of genuflecting to the usual gang of big money interests while merely trying to hide from the average voter the fact that he’s a staunch Republican at heart.
And unlike Fletcher, he’s had some help. Doug Manchester, who publishes a developer’s newsletter known as UT-San Diego, has taken a break from trying to convince San Diego how wonderful it would be to buy a brand new stadium for the Chargers, and is now busy using his paper to urge voters to select Faulconer for mayor, while carefully downplaying and soft-pedaling the “R” word.
But not all local news outlets have been so compassionate about Faulconer’s party-identity issues. When KPBS published a profile of him which accurately labeled him a Republican no less than two whole times in a 2,500 word piece, the reporter got a stern email from Faulconer’s campaign manager, Tony Monolatos. The story, Monolatos said, “was almost entirely about Kevin being a Republican and a tool for big business” and was “stacked with similar Republican references.”
How could KPBS have been so blind, to associate a Republican politician with the, you know, Republican Party? Especially, when, as Monolatos tellingly points out, “We stressed many times how there are more Dems in Kevin’s district than Rs, that didn’t appear in your story.” (Oh, the sad, sad life of a misunderstood, party-identity-confused Republican in modern San Diego.)
Now, I’m joking of course about Proposition F. And you can’t really blame someone for trying to hide the fact that he’s a Republican politician. I’d be embarrassed if I was one, too.
But in all seriousness, if conservatives are going to try to stop transgender students from having the right to use the bathroom or locker room most appropriate to the gender they truly identify as, despite having no evidence that this right has ever been abused, then surely progressives in San Diego should try to stop DINOs (Democrat in Name Only) and RINOs (Republican in North-of-the-8 Only) from getting away with pretending to be what they are not, and causing very real harm to the integrity of our democracy.
Matt Valenti is the author of The Newts: A Political Satire of Mythic Proportions