The Guardian–and the historic elections of 1966 and 2011

(Written on election day before the polls closed. Scroll down for our editorial positions of 1966 and 2011)

In the second edition of the Guardian, dated Nov. 7, 1966, we published our first set of editorial endorsements that were to become a trademark of our form of alternative journalism.  (Our 1966 editorial in pdf form.)

We strongly endorsed then Gov. Pat Brown, going for his third term as a progressive governor, over Ronald Reagan, making his first run at elective office as the voice of the new Republican conservatism, in what we called “our historic election.” In reading the editorial over on the eve of our current “historic election,” it was remarkably prescient.

“For the repudiation of Brown and the election of Reagan,” we noted gloomily,  “would mean that a generation of progressive legislation—in medicare, in education, in welfare, in conservation, in water resources, in bringing to account the dreadful problems of growth, population, and sprawl—would be in grave jeopardy.

“It isn’t difficult to imagine, for example, what will happen to the conservation movement at the hands of a man who talks loudly about selling off ‘unused park land.’ It is this sort of statement that shows Reagan’s naivete, his total lack of qualification for any responsible government job and his complete misunderstanding of what is happening in our state.”

We pointed out that Brown had continued the progressive policies of Govs.Warren and Knight but that this forward movement would end abruptly with Reagan as governor. Well, alas, we were right. Reaganomics was born and the Guardian and everybody else have ever since been fighting the doctrine of tax cuts, deregulation, privatization, and the economics of greed is good and greed is legal.

The result can be seen in today’s election in San Francisco and other California cities and counties.

The mayoral regimes of Brown, Newsom and Ed Lee have carried on the key elements of Reaganomics: endless budget cuts and a bushelbasket of  higher fees, no new revenue initiatives, no moves to tax the Warren Hellmans and the Gordon Gettys on the same basis as the middle class, no moves to tax the big realtors and banks and big downtown companies on the same basis as small businesses, maintaining and facilitating the galloping inequalities of income, keeping the corrupting PG&E/Raker scandal intact at City Hall and thus allowing PG&E to operate as an illegal private utility in San Francisco. On and on.

 The sad thing is that if Lee wins and the tide of sleaze keeps rising in his office, and the progressives lose even more power, things are likely  to get much worse and fast. If Avalos or Herrera win, things are likely to get better but slowly if at all. If Mirkarimi wins, he will make an excellent sheriff in the Mike Hennessey tradition and will immediately be a candidate in waiting to run for mayor as a progressive sheriff and keep PG&E and the Chamber of Commerce gang on edge. (Our position as  outlined by Executive Editor Tim Redmond in “The bad old days” in   our 45th anniversary issue of Oct. 19, 2011.) 

 In any event, the Guardian will be here to “print the news and raise hell for good causes,” to update our masthead motto of 45 years. B3