In June I asked What the Hell Happened in San Diego following a disaster in the June primary. A few days later, I noted that, among other things, Ben Hueso happened. Today, former state senator Dede Alpert happened in much the same way. Alpert is, apparently by virtue of just being a Democrat who’s ever been elected to something, generally considered to be a major force within the San Diego Democratic Party. She was even batted around as a possible candidate for mayor before leading Dems decided it would be easier to just give up and go home. So in the one remaining citywide race, Alpert endorses Jan Goldsmith for City Attorney, the Republican. This of course continues her streak of supporting Republicans every chance she gets.
Let’s keep this straight. Incumbent City Attorney Mike Aguirre is the only one in San Diego who has consistently and seriously pursued tremendous corruption concerns over the past several years. Alpert’s endorsement says that Goldsmith “will provide the kind of leadership the City Attorney’s office needs to be a competent, well-managed law office for the people of San Diego.” Which of course implies that Aguirre’s office is incompetent and poorly managed. This is a popular line of CW bullshit in San Diego pushed out by people who bristle at the notion of real accountability at the city level. I know that Aguirre isn’t always the easiest person to get along with or work with, but with nobody else in the entire city taking seriously the responsibility to provide an uncorrupted, open and reasonably functional government, I’d wonder what exactly Alpert is looking for.
Has the city’s recent crumbling infrastructure, financial mismanagement, city hall pay-to-play scandals, collapsing economy and lack of responsiveness been some sort of model for virtuous governance and I missed the memo? Has the appeal of having a viable oppositional voice been abandoned in favor of a de-facto autocracy full of people keeping their head down and building a resume?
In this case, it makes some sense that, since Alpert’s Republican choice for mayor has won, that she would want to undermine anyone who might oppose his policies- regardless of whether the policies are good. Or ethical. Or healthy for the long-term prospects of city governance. Effective government requires a public and reasonable debate, a legitimate division of power within government and between ideologies, and a basic level of competence and motivation towards maintaining such standards. It would seem Alpert disagrees, but complacency and go-along-get-along simply doesn’t fly. Not anymore at least.
The Democratic Party in San Diego is completely rotten at the top. These standard-bearers of the establishment and decaying conventional wisdom are an embarrassment and actively undermine the tremendous bottom-up organizing that new blood, new perspectives and new energy have brought to the grassroots level. It’s people like Ben Hueso and Dede Alpert who work expressly at cross-purposes to the notion of a viable San Diego Democratic Party. The ultimate opponent is the GOP, but these oppositional Democrats are a hurdle that need to be identified and understood as well. There won’t be a healthy Democratic Party until we win both fronts. If Dede Alpert wants to try to hold up the Republican power structure, so be it. Now we know what we’re dealing with.