Recent news that Walgreens has now closed 17 of its 70 stores in San Francisco due to “out of control” shoplifting probably didn’t wow many Americans, but it’s additional confirmation of a fact that’s become painfully obvious in the last few decades: Democratic and progressive policies in deep blue areas are increasingly making life for ordinary citizens unlivable.
In San Francisco, the problem goes back to a weak-on-crime limousine liberal philosophy that would have been familiar to Dirty Harry as he patrolled (fictionally) the mean streets of Frisco back in the early ’70s. Then, starting in the ’80s, Californians came to their senses and cracked down on violence and criminality. Even Kamala Harris got in on the act, rising in Golden State politics based on a reputation for toughness as a prosecutor and then as California’s attorney general.
Give them enough time, though, and the bleeding hearts will always return to their roots. In 2014, California voters passed a proposition that made it a misdemeanor, instead of a felony, to steal anything worth less than $950. The idea was, of course, that no one – especially not a person of color – should face imprisonment or be burdened with a rap sheet because of mere thievery.
The problem, of course, is that making the consequences for theft less onerous encourages the less honest and scrupulous among us to steal. San Francisco deadbeats seem to have gotten the message. Losses to shoplifting in San Francisco Walgreens and CVS stores are several times what they are at typical drug stores, and the costs of security in the Bay Area are sky-high. Increasingly, retail chains are reaching the obvious and inevitable conclusion that doing business in San Francisco is impossible.
Of course, left-wing weak-on-crime policies have had similar effects for decades, and in the last year, the costs of “defunding” and demonizing the police have become more and more apparent. Crime rates in cities like San Francisco have soared. Urban residents thus face a lot more than mere inconvenience in their purchases of medications and toiletries – they face substantially increased risks of assault, mugging, carjacking, rape and murder, because Democratic politicians are more concerned with the rights of criminals than they are with the rights and quality of life of law-abiding citizens.
A Republican or a conservative might be tempted to object at this stage, “Ah! But there’s a silver lining, surely. The decreasing livability and increasing lethality of deep blue jurisdictions proves, as mere rhetoric never could, the utter absurdity and toxicity of ‘progressive’ policies.” Furthermore, once voters experience this epiphany, we would expect them to draw the appropriate conclusions and “throw the bums out,” replacing leftist, Democratic leadership with solid Republicans.
If life were fair and people were sensible, this argument would hold. Well, life isn’t, and people aren’t.
The sad fact is, when naive and/or extreme Democratic and progressive policies lead to disaster, the Democrats and progressives, instead of being exposed as charlatans, rise to the occasion and find ways to redirect the public’s ire. What that means, in practice, is that the left-wing Democratic politicians and activists – who are charlatans, but who aren’t fools – concoct alternative narratives that explain the shuttered storefronts, vicious crime sprees and frightful unemployment rates in their own backyards. These narratives pin urban blight on, you guessed it, the left’s favorite boogeymen: conservatives, Republicans, white people, the rich, corporations, Christians, gun owners, etc.
In the case of the shrinking retail economy of San Francisco, Democrats and progressives will inevitably fall back on that ultimate chart-topper of the left-wing hit parade: “systemic racism.” Surely, the argument goes, Walgreens’ refusal to serve the mostly BIPOC (black, indigenous and people of color) population of the City of San Francisco is a reflection of their rapacious capitalism, rooted ultimately in their (conscious or unconscious) racism and their enthrallment to America’s original sin of white supremacy. The result of Walgreens’ departure from certain San Francisco neighborhoods will, after all, be to deprive people of color of necessary services, and anything that harms minorities is, ipso facto, a product and a proof of ingrained American racism. Case closed.
The sad part, from the dyed-in-the-wool Critical Race Theory perspective, is that Walgreens could have done the right thing: It could have absorbed the losses associated with shoplifting in mostly BIPOC communities, viewing it as a form of reparations for the long history of injustice and oppression visited upon hapless minorities. It could have passed along the cost of those tacit reparations to its (mostly white) customers in other, less sticky-fingered neighborhoods. No harm done.
But instead Walgreens chose to punish the good people of San Francisco for their trivial infractions of outdated, racist laws. Shameful!
The fact is, therefore, that, while Democratic and progressive policies have utterly and consistently failed to solve the problems of urban America – instead, they have exacerbated them – the likelihood is that Democrats’ unbroken (since 1964) control of San Francisco politics will continue, and it may even be further entrenched. Meanwhile, Democrats’ iron grip on urban American politics in general seems destined not just to persist, but to extend itself gradually into our increasingly diverse suburbs. Democrats will not be punished for their failed policies, in other words – they will be rewarded! That’s because registered Democrats, who predominate in urban areas, accept almost unanimously the pack of lies about American racism and the wickedness of conservatives that Democratic politicians have been feeding them for decades. The real world performance of Democratic policies is, to these diehards, irrelevant.
This realization can only serve to depress those of who believe in conservative principles and in good governance – but there is a slim ray of hope. If urban America and the Democratic Party are beyond salvation and immune to reason, as it appears they are, moderate and independent voters are another story. These relatively open-minded, and unquestionably decisive, voters may not find the Democratic/progressive false narrative about urban blight compelling. When Democrats propose to these ordinary Americans that, against all the evidence of our senses, San Francisco, Seattle, Portland, Chicago and New York are models for what a truly progressive America could and should be like, they may just recoil. If so, then conservatives will have a chance to propagate their own narratives and expose the last several decades of Democratic rule in urban America for what it was and is: a travesty of epic proportions.
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