[sixties-l] Bay Area out of step in U.S. march to war (fwd)

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Date: Wed Oct 16 2002 - 04:16:36 EDT

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    Date: Thu, 10 Oct 2002 22:19:04 -0700
    From: radtimes <resist@best.com>
    Subject: Bay Area out of step in U.S. march to war

    Bay Area out of step in U.S. march to war


    Lawmakers at forefront of opposition

    by Edward Epstein, Chronicle Washington Bureau
    Thursday, October 10, 2002

    Washington -- When the roll is called in Congress on the resolution
    authorizing military action against Iraq, most local members will vote no,
    again showing the Bay Area marches to a drummer different from most of

    Large House and Senate majorities are expected to back the resolution that
    President Bush negotiated with bipartisan congressional leaders. In the 434-
    member House, where a vote is scheduled for today, opponents say that about
    100 members will vote against the resolution, including all but two of the
    Bay Area's 11 Democratic members.

    "We are, after all, the 'Left Coast' city," said David Lee of the Chinese
    American Voter Education Committee in San Francisco. "We are not a
    bellwether for the country. We're way out there."

    As for California's two Democratic senators: Barbara Boxer, from Marin
    County, is almost sure to oppose the resolution when the Senate votes later
    this week, and Dianne Feinstein of San Francisco -- often a swing moderate
    vote -- remains uncommitted.

    The reasons for the Bay Area's exceptionalism are many, analysts say, but
    they add up to a liberal hammerlock on local politics, where anti-war
    sentiment and disdain for Bush's conservative policies on a wide range of
    issues are the order of the day.

    What makes the Bay Area stand out even more in the current debate is that
    many members of Congress from such other liberal strongholds as New York
    City and Los Angeles support the president's resolution, because the Sept.
    11 terrorist attacks changed their world view.

    "Pre-emption has to be part of our national defense," said Rep. Anthony
    Weiner, D-N.Y. "Perhaps this is clearer to those of us who live in the
    shadow of the World Trade Center."

    History tells a lot about the Bay Area's political independence.

    "San Francisco has always been a wild and extravagant place, as long as
    there's been an inhabited San Francisco," said sociologist and author Todd
    Gitlin, who taught at UC Berkeley for 16 years before moving back home to
    New York in the mid-1990s.

    "People like me migrated to the Bay Area because we were footloose and
    wanted to get away from the East Coast as far as we could," added Gitlin,
    who now teaches at Columbia University.

     From the General Strike of 1934 and the great inward migration during World
    War II, on to the Beat generation of the 1950s, the Berkeley Free Speech
    movement, the Summer of Love, the anti-Vietnam war protests and the gay
    liberation movement, the Bay Area has attracted anti-authoritarian free
    spirits, Gitlin said.

    "Northern California has drawn lots of people who aren't interested in going
    lockstep through their lives -- it's almost self-selecting," said Norman
    Solomon of the Institute for Public Accuracy, a group that encourages the
    mainstream media to use voices from the left.

    Add in the high percentage of people in the Bay Area with college educations
    and high incomes -- people who are more likely to be liberal and to vote --
    and the recipe for a liberal bastion is complete.

    Invariably, these people were attracted to the political left, a trend that
    continues to feed off itself, said Dan Schnur, a Republican political
    strategist who lived in San Francisco for six years after working as Gov.
    Pete Wilson's press secretary in Sacramento.

    "A strong liberal is likely to make his or her home in a place known for
    this type of mind set," Schnur said. "The conservatives who once lived in
    the Bay Area have long ago moved elsewhere."

    The Republican Party is now virtually moribund in the Bay Area, reduced to a
    shadow in the races against Democratic House members, who are re-elected
    every two years by vast margins.

    "When one party dominates, it skews the political debate," Schnur added, so
    in the current debate there is almost no one from the Bay Area to lobby in
    Congress on behalf of the Bush-backed resolution. The exception is Rep. Tom
    Lantos, D-San Mateo, a longtime member of the House's Progressive Caucus who
    is one of Congress' leading hawks on ousting Saddam Hussein. Lantos voted in
    favor of the 1991 resolution backing military action to force Iraq from


    Sherri Bebitch Jeffe, a political analyst at the University of Southern
    California, shares Schnur's opinion.

    "Ideologically, the Bay Area is way more liberal than the rest of California
    and the rest of the country," she said.

    That's just fine with the local liberals, said Lee.

    "We're way ahead of the rest of the country, from the perspective of the
    progressives," he said.

    In the current debate, it's instructive to review the 1991 debate on Kuwait.

    Opponents of the resolution mustered 183 House votes and lost 52-47 in the
    Senate. In the House, 10 of the Bay Area's 12 representatives, who at the
    time included two Republicans, voted no.

    As for California's senators at the time, Democrat Alan Cranston was absent
    because of illness, and Republican John Seymour voted to authorize the use
    of force.

    This time, far fewer in Congress will stand in opposition. In addition to
    the New Yorkers, some Los Angeles-area liberals also will vote for the
    resolution allowing Bush to launch a pre-emptive assault on Iraq if
    diplomacy fails.

    As Rep. Brad Sherman, D-Sherman Oaks, said, "Iraq didn't change on Sept. 11.

    We did. We woke up."
    E-mail Edward Epstein at eepstein@sfchronicle.com.

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