By Daniel Firoozi
For a “moderate” mayor, San Diego’s Kevin Faulconer sure enjoys immersing himself in far-right political organizations.
In the coming days the first term Republican will be attending the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a conservative group that quite literally churns out bills for legislators to copy-paste and ratify as laws back at home. Now, a Republican attending a vaguely conservative club seems innocuous enough, but a quick background check demonstrates that ALEC is anything but a mainstream political organization.
Since Republicans swept state legislatures in 2010 the group has been directly involved in the writing and passage of Tea Party model legislation ranging from Florida’s Stand Your Ground Law, to Arizona’s Show Me Your Papers Law, to legal protections for body armor-piercing bullets, to tobacco deregulation, to scrapping recycling ordinances, to draconian restrictions on abortion, to bans on LGBT rights protections, to repealing land zoning laws, to union busting, to privatizing medicare, to banning climate change from textbooks, to abolishing minimum wages…
Hardly a vision for centrist politics. Yet, their big headliner and cheerleader will soon be San Diego’s own Kevin Faulconer.
How can a mayor who supposedly prides himself on being pro-choice, pro-LGBT rights, and pro-climate action resolve the cognitive dissonance of simultaneously promoting the backbone of America’s abortion bans, anti-LGBT laws, and fossil fuel promotion? The answer: he can’t.
Rather, Faulconer’s apparent willingness to abandon his own positions at the drop of a dime (or hefty sums from the local Chamber of Commerce) and pander to Tea Party extremists like Ted Cruz and Allen West highlights his top priority of political self-advancement.
Of course, the benefits for Faulconer seem clear enough. If he can get away with kowtowing to the far-right while maintaining his public image as a moderate pragmatist, he’ll have a strong foundation for pursuing higher office in a blue state with a history of Republican governors like California.
The problem for virtually everyone else is that Mayor Faulconer’s plans represent at best a deeply cynical effort to play both sides of every issue, and at worst a naked attempt to swap political favors for the financial and organizational support he needs from the far-right to eventually mount a statewide campaign. Pragmatic, indeed. Moderate, not so much.
You have to give Kevin Faulconer one thing: he’s a problem solver. If ALEC’s relative obscurity allows him to both bow to the far-right and ride a wave of independent support to a second term without drawing a serious Democratic challenger in deep-blue San Diego, he will have pulled off a huge political feat. The mayor is gunning for a Romney like U-Turn on dozens of issues between now and June 2016, and he’ll pull it off if news outlets continue to ignore this massive about-face.
That’s where we come in. If the people of this city shine a light on Kevin Faulconer’s shady relationship with ALEC and demand that he take a hard stance on their anti-LGBT, xenophobic, anti-choice, anti-worker, and big polluter platform we will finally see where his sensibilities lie. Though judging from his power play, we already know the answer.
Daniel Firoozi is President of College Democrats at UCSD
Click here for details and to sign up for anti-ALEC rallies in San Diego.