If you want to know what the United States would look like if progressives were in charge, just take a look at what San Francisco has become.
Of course, San Francisco isn’t the only city in America where homeless people live, urinate, and defecate on the streets. But homelessness is endemic in San Francisco; it’s all over the place, as Michael Gibson has chronicled in depressing detail in National Review.
“You notice homeless men and women – junkies, winos, the dispossessed – passed out in the vestibules of empty storefronts on otherwise busy streets as you travel up and down the city’s perplexing hills. Tent cities sprout in every shady nook: under highway overpasses, down alleys. The streets are littered with discarded syringes. As you walk down the street, you can smell the faint malodorous traces of human excrement and soiled clothing. Even in the middle of the day, crowded thoroughfares like Market Street host a carnival of indecipherable outbursts and drug-induced thrashings that the police appear to ignore.”
Wait, there’s more. San Francisco, it could be argued, is now the “Looting Capital of America.” And looters who usually target easy targets like neighborhood drug stores – where they can get away with stealing whatever they want – recently decided, “Why not try something more glamorous – and more profitable?” So they broke into glitzy stores in San Francisco’s posh shopping district, including a Louis Vuitton store, and ransacked them.
Criminals are immoral, but they are not stupid. They are aware that San Francisco’s progressive District Attorney Chesa Boudin, like progressive Democratic DAs across the country, dislikes prosecuting crime, which he has blamed on poverty, wealth inequality, and insufficient government spending on social programs – everything except criminals themselves.
According to Boudin, prostitution and open drug use are “victimless crimes.” He stated that he would not prosecute “quality of life crimes.” The result: Even many of San Francisco’s supposedly open-minded progressive residents have taken matters into their own hands by hiring private security guards.
However, in the aftermath of widely publicized looting videos, Boudin began sounding more like a prosecutor and less like a left-wing social worker, telling a local TV reporter that the recent wave of lootings is “absolutely unacceptable” and that he is preparing tough charges against those arrested.
Please forgive me if I don’t believe his conversion. To some extent, everyone looks out for No. 1, but politicians are in a league of their own. And guess what: voters are so fed up with Boudin’s soft-on-crime policies that a recall election is scheduled for next June. Do you think it has anything to do with his newly discovered desire to prosecute looters?
Once upon a time, you could walk all over the city, taking in the sights and the bohemian spirit without fear of being attacked. However, according to midyear statistics, gun violence in San Francisco is on the rise – the number of shootings, fatal and non-fatal, is more than double the number in 2019 and 2020.
California voters approved a proposition in 2014 that designated possession of hard drugs for personal use and theft of up to $950 as misdemeanor offenses. The proposal was pushed by progressives, and when it passed, criminals took notice.
Progressives like to believe they are enlightened and that their enlightened ideas are improving the lives of the people they were elected to serve. Their ostensible enlightenment, however, has only exacerbated dysfunction. This is true not only in San Francisco, but in almost every major American city led by progressive Democrats.
San Francisco has survived earthquakes and fires, but the jury is still out on whether it can withstand progressive politics. As one local venture capitalist put it, it’s a city that looks magnificent from afar but is now shockingly ugly up close.