“I’m leaving party politics. I’m leaving behind a system that is completely dysfunctional.”
Nathan Fletcher, announcing his mayoral run as an Independent
“Is you is or is you ain’t my baby
Maybe baby’s found somebody new
Or is my baby still my baby true?”
Nathan Fletcher’s recent decision to leave the Republican Party and campaign as an Independent has resulted in two interesting responses. A group of local executives, inspired by Fletcher’s decision, has formed a “Movement to the Middle.” Their pledge declares “I am not a Democrat. I am not a Republican. I am an American.” It is worth noting that these shakers and movers also support Fletcher’s candidacy.
The U-T San Diego’s editorial board, clearly in the Carl DeMaio camp, took Fletcher to task for what they perceived as the muddle of mush in the middle. Did this mean Fletcher would negotiate with those evil labor unions? Does Independent mean “compromise is always good?”
Fletcher responds in code to allay the concerns of anxious conservatives with “There is no compromise when it comes to the public interest or protecting taxpayers.”
Context is everything here. Linda Perine describes the intent of the right wing “to roll back the reforms of the 20th Century. This well documented ‘privatization movement’ is supported by Newt Gingrich and Grover Norquist, funded by the Koch brothers and embodied in San Diego by Carl DeMaio and Nathan Fletcher.”
Then Fletcher tacks toward the center in an appropriately Kumbaya moment with “We passed legislation by building bipartisan coalitions around shared goals.” In Jim Miller’s article Flunking Fletcher, one is left to wonder about those “shared goals.” But this is the kind of locution that leaves the middle mind movement all swoon-y. They are able to maintain their high self regard while at the same time remaining secure in the knowledge that Fletcher will never be a threat to their business/corporate bottom line.
With a wink and nod to conservatives, independents and liberals alike, Nathan Fletcher promises that “I welcome support from anyone who shares my vision for our city.” It would be more truthful if Fletcher promised that he would support anyone who shares his AND Grover Norquist’s vision for our city. Yes, Fletcher signed on to the Norquist pledge and as a born again Independent has not recanted his partisan ways or “deeply held core principles” on the subject, whichever way he views it at the moment.
Grover Norquist has never held public office, but he crafted the anti-tax pledge that has become the DNA of the GOP. Taxes are never to be raised anytime, anywhere, anyhow under any circumstances. (So help me God.) Do you remember the pathetic scene in the Republican presidential candidate debates this past year? Candidates were asked to raise their hand if they would support raising one dollar of taxes for ten dollars in federal government cuts. No one would dare to take on The Grover, although Jon Huntsman recently said that he regretted that insanity.
As citizens, we want our elected representatives to uphold the Constitution, and to work toward shared goals in our states and municipalities. What does it mean when our representative has signed an iron clad pledge to Grover Norquist and his billionaire special interest backers who are averse to reducing the entitlements (loopholes) that we give to corporate interests or raising taxes on millionaires? As Tim Dickinson put it in his Rolling Stone article, it means our democratic process is being undermined and that our representatives have become “slaves to an idiot’s idea of how the world works.”
Behold Nathan Fletcher, the Independent, who has signed on with Grover Norquist– a man that few of us know and whom we never elected to the position of dog catcher. Behold Nathan Fletcher, who requires no ideological litmus test to participate with him in our municipal vision, but has no problem signing on to the Norquist pledge, the ideological litmus test of the extreme, radical right wing.
So now we have a mayoral candidate, so calm, so rational, so likable and attractive who has decided to ditch his allegiance to you and me for the greater good of making government so small that we can drown it in a bathtub a la Grover Norquist. People who are currently on the fence, including life long Democrats, are distinctly turned off by the toxic implications of the Grover Norquist tax pledge, and recoil when they are made aware of Fletcher’s fealty. But many of them haven’t been. They are left with “calm, rational, likable and bipartisan.”
The U-T can indulge in frantic pearl clutching as Fletcher edges past DeMaio, but the truth is that the U-T wins and all those independent executive types also win if either Fletcher or DeMaio becomes our next mayor. Doug Manchester’s ego may be wounded, but life will go on as normal in our fair city. What about life for the rest of us who look at our underfunded libraries, our crumbling infrastructure, our lack of living wages and the lack of transparency in our government? Why does it feel as though we are first in line to be drowned in the bathtub?