Where’s the ‘alt-middle’?

It’s election time now and all of the groups I follow are in full partisan campaign mode. The campaign rhetoric and arguments are tiring and the same.

  • Gun control: public safety vs individual rights
  • Labor: union rights vs employer rights
  • Environment: nature vs jobs
  • Housing: community control vs more development

I have not been impressed by anyone running locally. The candidate I like the most is Josh Harder in Congressional District 10. I respect his tenacity and willingness to put up a fight. He’s working day and night his race is the only one I’ve given to since the June primary. 

The others here, the candidate for state assembly, school board, city council and on down all look and feel the same to me. I’m not seeing anybody doing anything different. Nobody’s taking risks. We’re all backed into our corners, sheltered by the sad drone of the same promises and ideas that have defined the Republican and Democratic parties for the last decade or so. 

​I wish somebody would venture into “no man’s land” and take a stand contrary to their party and public opinion. Ironically the only person I’ve seen do this is Catharine Baker, our incumbent Republican defending her seat in the State Assembly. She’s pro-choice, which is not part of the California Republican Party platform. I respect that. I haven’t seen anyone from my own party make a similar move. 

This is what they’re calling the “alt-middle.” It’s where you might grab a third rail like Prop 13 or most recently AB 2923. All of my local representatives publicly opposed AB 2923 which was ultimately signed by Governor Brown. It gives BART the right to zone land that it owns within a half mile of a BART station for housing development. So why did Baker (incumbent State Assemblymember), Bauer-Kahan (Democratic challenger), and Glazer (State Senator not on the ballot) not support it? 

Local control. Even though I don’t think you can argue AB 2923 is bad for the state (It’s more housing! In a region that desperately needs it!) local communities don’t like it because they do lose some control. Democrats don’t want to appear to be pro-developer and Republicans don’t want to give power to Sacramento. Nonetheless, I don’t buy it. I think all of them actually see the merits of the idea but none of them were willing to stick their necks out and tell the public why, when faced with a crisis (as housing is right now) we have to take some extraordinary measures. AB 2923 is one of these and that’s why the governor signed it. 

If Baker or Bauer-Kahan said this they would have been booed. It would have made headlines. And I have to believe that a significant group of Independents and Democrats would have cheered. FInally we have someone willing to meet us where we are, in the middle, an arms length away from the polar partisan corners. 

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