By E.A. Barrera
I was proud to support David Alvarez and his campaign for Mayor. His life is an inspiration and his future is the future of San Diego. But now it is time for all San Diego Democrats to come together, and grow beyond our basic base of supporters. There are floods of Independents and Republicans out there disgusted with the modern Tea Party-dominated GOP. The new Confederacy has taken hold of the Republican Party, leaving millions of Americans ready to join with the Democrats in reasonable dialogue and solutions to our nation’s problems.
But in the next few months, San Diego Democrats must start to consider how the negative campaign against Nathan Fletcher by Alvarez supporters – both officially, unofficially, and by rumor, innuendo, and deception – created a bitterness that caused many Fletcher Democrats (much less Independents who did not want to vote for Faulconer) to either sit at home or vote for Faulconer in protest. I became an enthusiastic Alvarez backer, but it was very disheartening during the primary to be called a “DINO” (Democrat In Name Only) or worse because I thought Fletcher the better candidate to keep the Mayor’s office in Democratic Party control.
Now we are hearing a theme from backers of Alvarez as to why he lost: Racism and/or the notion Democrats can’t win Special Elections. It is true that racism and bigotry are spreading within the ranks of Conservatism. Simply listen to or read the comments of listeners on Roger Hedgecock’s radio program, “FOX News”, Rush Limbaugh or the “Duck-Dynasty show” and you can see and smell the racist, bigoted bile of so many who cling to the Confederate values defeated by Abraham Lincoln, Cesar Chavez, Martin Luther King, Harvey Milk and Barack Obama. Racism against Alvarez absolutely occurred … but no more so than against President Obama, who managed to win a far larger percentage of San Diego votes in 2012 than Faulconer did in 2014. In fact it is this same bigotry in all its forms–against blacks, Latinos, Asians, gays, women and the poor–which is driving so many Republicans from the GOP … Republicans like Nathan Fletcher.
The latter argument is perhaps the most disturbing – the one that says there was never any chance for Alvarez or any Democrat to win, because Republicans vote more often in special elections. Excuses have streamed across social media and online publications, ranging from the absurd notion that the race was lost the moment Bob Filner resigned, to voters were hoodwinked into voting for Faulconer, to the apparent idea that Democrats simply don’t care to vote when an election is not about the Presidency. This is a defeatist attitude for numerous reasons, least of all the ability it has to mask what was a clear distinction of this campaign: Democrats lost sight of the bigger picture.
The San Diego Democratic Party had the unique and maybe once in a lifetime chance to broaden the Democratic base and kill the GOP-development cabal of Doug Manchester and his lackeys. If Faulconer had not won, the Republican Party would not have had a single major elected official in California. Further, there would not be a single Republican Mayor of any of the ten most populous cities in the United States. But the way the Labor Council threw Nathan Fletcher under the bus in the name of party purity was terrible. They didn’t just endorse Alvarez, they skewered Fletcher – basically implying that he was some sort of spy for the right and if you did not vote for Alvarez, you were violating the principles of Liberalism and the Democratic tradition. Essentially doing the work Faulconer wanted done.
So now Democrats have no leverage or voice in city hall and the establishment powers that have dominated local governance are emboldened. They think they have a mandate. But within this defeat exists rays of hope for the future. Kevin Faulconer proved that Conservatism is dying. He barely, if ever, mentioned his party affiliation and or that he is a staunch conservative on economic issues. David Alvarez proved that Liberalism still has a way to go before being the majority, but his supporters showed that Labor and the Liberal wing of the Democratic Party are determined fighters who will never quit, while Nathan Fletcher proved that there are millions of voters in between the two ideological ends looking for a home and leaning towards the Democrats if only we will welcome them into our party.
Ideological rigidity is not the way of America. Our values are inclusiveness and our principles are based on education, debate and seeking common ground. These are the true values and principles of the Democratic Party – the party of FDR through Barack Obama – and it is the party I am proud to call my own.