Why Carl DeMaio Has Made San Diego the “Battleground City” for his Radical Privatization Agenda

by on October 31, 2012 · 11 comments

in Civil Rights, Economy, Election, History, Labor, Politics, Popular, San Diego

DeMaio Carries the Radical Right’s Agenda of the Private Ownership of (Our) Government

It was in the middle of April back in 2011, and a couple hundred local Republican bigwigs were holding a gala “unity night” at the Kona Kai on Shelter Island.  Mayor Jerry Sanders was joining Republican Councilman Kevin Faulconer, other honchos and establishment types from the San Diego Chamber of Commerce, the Lincoln Club, the Taxpayers Association, plus cadres of right-wing activists – all coming together in an orgy of unified puffery. They had come together to celebrate the launch of a ballot initiative that would severely undercut the power of public sector unions to bargain for their members in San Diego.

The Kona Kai Resort – site of the GOP gala where Carl DeMaio raised the question whether San Diego is the “Wisconsin of the West”.

One of the heroes and firebrands of the local rightwing, Carl DeMaio got up and made a speech. Somewhere in his spiel, he challenged the gathering with a question – a question that would define the coming year and months in San Diego. DeMaio – a  City Councilman – called upon his audience and asked them: “Are you ready to make San Diego the Wisconsin of the West?” His fellow Republicans cheered.  They were ready, as was described by the rightward SDRostra.com

The initiative – Prop B – later went on to win at the next election – but got immediately caught up in court challenges.  Yet, the movement to elect Carl DeMaio certainly was not similarly derailed, and a year and a couple of months after that gala at the Kona Kai, DeMaio went on to win one of the two spots for Mayor of San Diego on the November 2012 ballot.

The mercurial rise of Carl DeMaio – from a totally unknown and putative “nobody”  in 2002 when he moved to San Diego – to being a major contender for mayor just a decade later – is an amazing trajectory. Indeed, local history books contain only a couple of other political pursuits that were similarly fast-tracked – perhaps the career of Roger Hedgecock in the 1980s and that of Smiling Billy Carlson, the boy mayor of the 1890s, come to mind as being the closest – both had political career rises to the mayor’s office, only to be dashed on the rocks by criminal prosecutions.

I first encountered Carl DeMaio during the early years of this century, back in 2003.  I was downtown in Council Chambers on a number of occasions with an activist agenda, begging at the threshold of power to uncover whether there was a toxic dump next to SeaWorld and other such appeals to their ecological reason.  But every time I glanced over at Carl, he was in front of a camera.

The media loved DeMaio – the mainstream media.  One could easily see that.  Carl was clean and clean-cut; he was articulate and attractive, and he had a plan all outlined in a neat glossy packet. He had style; he had confidence; and he had his minions who danced around him and the cameras, all glossified themselves in suits and high-heels.

Basking in my grassroots roots, I could see that DeMaio was a bit too polished, a bit too slick.  He was not coming from the grassroots – but from somewhere else – and it took me, the local media and other activists and politicians awhile to understand just where he was coming from.

Yet he – along with his Democratic rival Bob Filner – both demolished Bonnie Dumanis in the primary; Dumanis had been described just a year earlier as the “most powerful politician in the County”.  If DeMaio is elected mayor of the eighth largest city in the country, then he would take over that mantle himself – Carl DeMaio would then become the most powerful politician in the region.

So, I set out on a quest, to attempt to understand who and what Carl DeMaio is, and was. Over the course of the last couple of weeks, I’ve reviewed most of what Jim Miller and Doug Porter have written at OB Rag and the San Diego Free Press about him, and what the San Diego City Beat and the Voice of San Diego have published, plus a few other sources – like a 2007 Tom Blaire interview of DeMaio for San Diego Magazine, and the labor-oriented website DirtyDeMaio.org.

Many of these sources have a negative view of DeMaio, yet, most – but not all (certainly not those of my colleagues Jim Miller and Doug Porter) – miss the fundamental characteristic about DeMaio – and therefore, miss the fundamental critique of him.

What Is Carl Up to Since the Primary?

As we head into the last week of the election, just what is Carl DeMaio doing? Is he really the “cuddly Carl” teddy-bear that he wants us to think? DeMaio’s most recent television ads seek to portray him as a reasonable outsider surrounded by a rainbow of different supporters, fighting “downtown hotel interests” and public unions.

However, it’s plain to see that ever since the June Primary, DeMaio has been rushing toward the middle of the political spectrum in hopes that he can lure independents and un-decided Democrats his way. This was predictable and in a similar vein on the national scale, Mitt Romney has been accelerating his ride to the middle for the same reasons.

In his attempt to scotch-tape and paste together a “centrist” image for himself – which he has been doing at debates, his website, and on mailers – DeMaio has been flouting some kind of “bipartisan” and unifier record, claiming that he has a strong environmental conscience, and that he is a populist motivated by compassion.

One of his “bipartisanship” claims was made back in mid-September, when DeMaio made a big deal that the group, Movement to the Middle – businesspeople who had supposedly left their parties and who had coalesced around then-candidate Nate Fletcher – now endorsed him.  In a press release, DeMaio called them “a grassroots coalition of business and community leaders” who all want a end to government gridlock.  In a subsequent interview on Fox 5 San Diego, he described them:

“They felt so strongly that the two-party system was broken that they literally in the spring left their parties and said, ‘We gotta start reaching across the aisle and working together.'”

 Yet, as VOSD pointed out, back before the Primary, a DeMaio campaign press release called Movement to the Middle a “front group” of “wealthy downtown insiders”, Fletcher’s “millionaire campaign backers.” In the release, DeMaio is quoted:

“I think the question is not why are a bunch of millionaire backers joining their hand-picked Mayoral candidate in a election year ploy. Didn’t we all see that coming?”

Has DeMaio been truly a bipartisan compromiser in his Council seat? City Hall observers have seen how over his few years DeMaio has been the most divisive and partisan figure on San Diego’s City Council in decades.  Even Donna Frye – whose patience is legend and who while on the Council tried to work with him – gave up, and called him a “ bully” and a “political sociopath.” ‘Going over a history of Council votes, often DeMaio was the lone vote on issues, whether it was his opposition to finding a downtown shelter for the homeless or finding a few dollars to fund the City’s needle-exchange program.

Turning to  DeMaio’s claim that he has been strongly on side of the environment, all one has to do is check out the grades he has received from major local environmental organizations.  He received F’s from the annual Environmental Quality Report Card in 2009 and 2011, and a D+ in 2010 – the worst score of any council member during those years.  Livia Borak, President of the League of Conservation Voters San Diego, called his claims on environmental leadership “laughable” and “insulting”.

Is Carl really a compassionate populist? DeMaio has made a name for himself as a champion of the far right’s crusade against the right to collective bargaining by government unions, fashioning himself as San Diego’s answer to Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker – who no one would accuse of being compassionate or populist.  DeMaio has gone to great lengths to make his name synonymous with being anti-union, even opposing death benefits for the widows of police officers killed in the line of duty. At a June 2011 campaign fundraiser, DeMaio openly compared public employee unions to temper-tantrum children.

An example of DeMaio’s compassion: just before the June election, the San Diego Police Officers Association ran a TV ad highlighting DeMaio’s vote against death benefits for those widows and orphans of slain police officers. DeMaio’s response? He threatened legal action to block the ad – but ultimately he was forced to quietly back down – the ad was true.

And consider the moment that DeMaio crossed the line with then-Councilwoman Donna Frye.  It was during a Council debate to find a new site for the emergency homeless shelter.  Frye and others had found a compromise site in Barrio Logan but needed DeMaio’s vote.  Instead, he went on a grandstanding tirade while pushing for a shelter at Golden Hall – even though clearly there were no other votes for his idea. This brought Donna to tears and to calling Carl names.

Any compassion DeMaio actually has, drains away quickly when he touts his big endorser, Roger Hedgecock who has made a radio career for himself by railing against undocumented Mexican migrants. Or when Carl was the sole vote who supported an Arizona-type police authority to check migrants’ papers.  So, by openly touting Hedgecock’s endorsement – and hence what he presents – DeMaio is openly kicking gays and Mexicans under the bus, as Roger also has a long record of homophobia as well, as do other Carl supporters.

In responding to DeMaio’s tracking to the middle, San Diego CityBeat complained that he had taken on a “phony new persona”.

“That’s not DeMaio. The DeMaio we know is combative, hostile, difficult, vindictive, overzealous and single-minded on a single policy goal: to shrink the public sector.”

 And as far as his “outsider” claims – they are blown away as soon as you understand that his biggest backers are members of the GOP establishment, the rulers of the new U-T media empire – robber barons Papa Doug Manchester and John Lynch. His support also include members of the establishment who support Democrats – like billionaire Irwin Jacobs (the super-rich are always “bipartisan”).   Manchester in particular has long been a big-money backer of DeMaio:

Carl DeMaio has a history with the new owners of the city’s main daily newspaper, hotelier Doug Manchester and broadcaster John Lynch. In 2005, Manchester donated $100,000 to a DeMaio-run political committee, while Lynch’s radio station provided the committee with $38,400 in free air time.

 Now that Manchester owns the U-T, we’ve seen banner, wrap-around ads for DeMaio, editorials, political cartoons and articles critical of Filner and glorifying Carl abound. U-T cartoonist Steve Breen sunk to new lows recently when he inked a graphic portraying Filner as one of the horrifying Halloween monsters, an image that bordered on being anti-Semitic.

One of the reasons that DeMaio received failing grades from environmental groups was because of his blatant favoritism towards developers, major private contractors and hoteliers. DeMaio has been endorsed by the Building Industry Association, the Associated General Contractors and the Associated Builders and Contractors, three groups that regularly lobby the city for the building industry. And to be sure, DeMaio supports the Convention Center expansion, Irwin Jacob’s Balboa Park plans, and any land development that ol’ Papa Doug at the U-T wants, whether towers in Mission Valley or football stadiums at the Terminal.

Far being a “centrist”, an outsider, or eco-bipartisan unifer, DeMaio definitely carries the banner for the San Diego GOP Establishment as the sole Republican survivor from the Primary.  But he represents more than that, actually. It’s more like he represents the binding of  the traditional wings of the establishment to that of  the Radical Right in order to forestall a Filner take-over of City Hall.  Yet, it’s more complex than that, also.

This casting towards the Middle by DeMaio – doesn’t every politician do that after the Primary as they gear up for the general election where they have to appeal to a broader base of voters?  The fact that DeMaio is blatantly lying about who and what he is – isn’t this simply what all politicos do in order to get elected: appeal to the Middle?

Yet, it’s one thing for a politician to emphasize or de-emphasize this or that on the campaign trail for the Middle, but it’s quite another to totally switch positions, doing a 180 without acknowledging or even admitting the former position, without any explanation, self-criticism or apology. That’s what DeMaio is doing and has been doing for the general election, ever since early June. And again, DeMaio seems to be mirroring Romney, being his “mini-me” – the Mini-Me to Mitt.  In contrast, Filner doesn’t sound or appear to be changing any of his message or positions.

So, what does it mean when a major politician with a good chance of winning the Mayor’s seat, who, at the same time misrepresents himself, his record and what he stands for?  What does it mean when Carl DeMaio lies about himself and  his positions?

One thing it means, without more, is that Carl DeMaio is willing to say anything, is willing to create Little Lies – as long as we – the voters – don’t know of his Big Lies.  The non-Doug-Manchester press and media in this town have been good at documenting DeMaio’s Little Lies and missteps. It’s his Big Lies that have us worried.

DeMaio’s willingness to lie so openly is also indicative of his “scorched-earth” manner of battling, his ability to follow the Machiavellian “by any means necessary” combat rules favored by other older Radical Right politicos.

Just where did Carl DeMaio come from? Outlines of his history are valuable and available down to excruciating details – details that we can pass over briefly.

The History of Carl DeMaio

Former Speaker of the House and mentor to Carl DeMaio: Newt Gingrich.

Carl DeMaio was born in Iown in 1974. And on the campaign trail, he likes to tout his “troubled family”, an “abusive father” who “abandoned” the family, and a mother who died after a long battle with cancer.  One local website questioned this account and raised the possibility that DeMaio trots this version out to gain sympathy to counter the ugly “bully” and “political psychopath” images.

After attending a military school and a Jesuit high school, he ended up attending Georgetown University.  And as the helpful website DirtyDeMaio.com continues his story:

 In the mid-90s, DeMaio was plucked out of college by Newt Gingrich to join the new Congressional Institute and help write the now-infamous Contract with America that set the stage for the K Street Project and laid the foundation for the lobbyist scandals including Jack Abramoff.

Newt Gingrich was the Republican Speaker of the House – arguably the second most powerful politician in the nation – second only to then-President Bill Clinton.  So, this connection was a really big deal for young Carl.

It was a crash course in partisan extremism, as once the Contract was done, Newt Gingrich shifted focus to shutting down the federal government in the name of ideological purity – a move widely seen now as helping usher in the modern era of partisan gridlock in DC.

 These extreme measures eventually cost Newt Gingrich his job and position in government.

But Carl DeMaio was able to move along and up, utilizing his new-found partisanship tactics and connections to find fortune … and government contracts. At the age of 22, he worked with Virgina, wife of US Supreme Court Justice Clarance Thomas and future tea party leader, in setting up “training sessions” on how to outsource government agencies – sessions denounced by Congressional Democrats as overly partisan.

In 1999, DeMaio joined the libertarian and ultra-conservative Reason Foundation as a director of government redesign. The Foundation’s board is a who’s who of reactionary elites, which has received millions in funding from the Koch Brothers, Scaife Family and the Bradley Foundation, and maintains close ties to other major conservative organizations.

Radical Right ideologue Grover Norquist.

In 2000, he founded the Performance Institute, a right-wing think tank set up primarily to train government employees on outsourcing. Because of his connections, DeMaio began to rope in government contracts worth millions.  He went on to work in the Bush administration, lobbied the GOP governor in Sacramento, and figured out that he could make lots of money from the government training government workers how to prepare their agencies for the private section.

Between 2001 and 2007, DeMaio’s Institute raked in $2.7 million in federal consulting contracts.  When he sold it in 2007, it had 65 employees and annual revenues reached $10 million. A spin-off was also sold, a company DeMaio founded in 2003 to provide the same services to the private sector.

Looking back, why was DeMaio’s experience in DC so important to him then and us now?

DeMaio founded two businesses and made millions of dollars from his knowledge of an obscure law on measuring government performance. It not only set the foundation for his ideas on governing, but also it helped finance his San Diego political career.  And it was his training and experience at the feet of Gingrich and other far right politicos that set Carl on his trajectory into San Diego, a plum ripe for the grabbing.

Within a couple of years, his Performance Institute had set up office in Kearny Mesa, DeMaio had hooked up with local business conservative circles like the Chamber of Commerce and the San Diego Taxpayers’ Association, and he and his high-heels and suits began churning out glossy budget analyses and critiques. These early connections were enabled ostensibly by DeMaio’s opening bonavides – his mentorship with Papa Gingrich – again, certainly then the most powerful player within the Republican Party, and the deep pockets of his substantial tie-lines with the reactionary Reason Foundation think tank.

And the ripples began.

Mike Aguirre – the one-term City Attorney – was one of the first to openly tangle with DeMaio. Aguirre called him “an Ivy League charlatan” as they fought over DeMaio’s unsuccessful push to eliminate misdemeanor prosecutions from the City and divert them to the County DA’s office.  DeMaio got back at Aguirre in an April 2007 interview with Tom Blair for San Diego Magazine, calling him uncivil, disruptive and questioning his maturity.  Aguirre was just one of the first to tangle with the zealous reformer.

During that interview, DeMaio was particularly outraged – he told Blair – at “folks out and-out lying to the public”, referring to Council members who had fought the strong-mayor system.  In that same interview, he stated he wanted to end district elections for Council, but it was how DeMaio downplayed the reasons he actually came to San Diego that’s of interest now, as he claimed then he and his Performance Institute chose the city because it was “well-managed”.  And in fact, he appeared in front of the City Council in 2002 to give the City an award for running the “most-efficient city government in California.”  If just he had known how public officials out-and-out lied to the public ….

The real reasons Carl DeMaio chose San Diego lay much deeper.  And we’ll get to those.

Privatization is the Control of Government by Private Interests

What DeMaio learned and the perspective, tactics and aggressive style garnered while at the Reason think tank, all can be described as his on-the-job training as the GOP pitch man for a radical privatization agenda for the entire country. Privatization – handing government – that is supposedly failing – over to the corporate world which can do it more efficiently, better … and more profitable. As our writer Jim Miller has stated over and over in his “Under the Perfect Sun” column:

the agenda of the right-wing think tank movement is privatization.  When government fails, the answer is always to hand over the commons to the corporate world who do it better and more efficiently than the public sector. We are told this ad nauseum even after Enron, Haliburton, and Abramoff and the K Street gang do all they can to prove it wrong–it is the big lie that keeps on lying.

Privatization is not just the latest GOP plan for the nation, it’s not simply the latest hot-topic of the plutocracy, no, it is much more serious than that, much more of a serious threat to the nation.

Plainly speaking, it is the agenda of the extreme wing of the GOP, the wing that no longer supports the bipartisan compromises that have governed the nation domestically since the New Deal, the wing that wants to counter all the social, racial, sexual, and economic gains of the Sixties.

Privatization is a concerted, purposeful effort by national, multinational, and supranational corporations (and individuals, families, officeholders, nonprofit and religious organizations they have made or promise to make enormously wealthy) to undercut, limit, shrink, or outright take over any government or any part of the public sector that (1) stands in the way of corporate pursuit of even larger profits, and (2) could not be run for profit.

In fact, there are no savings through privatization. Lousy jobs are generated, quality of service goes down, and taxes remain the same. The difference is that more public funds go into the pockets of private corporations.  So why is it being pushed by the Radical Right?

The answer is indeed a sobering one. Since the mid-Seventies, around the time President Nixon had to resign, the Radical Right has been plotting their comeback. Emboldened by the Reagan Regime, the Radical Right proliferated networks of think tanks, foundations, policy boards, and ultimately – politicians – to carry forth their agenda. Their agenda of privatization. It was sold to the public in order “to destroy independent, democratic government itself.”

With no “big government,” there are no pesky taxes on corporations, bothersome safety or environmental regulations, no limits on development, and, ultimately no real checks on the power of capital itself.  And one key political objective on this agenda of the Radical Right is to ultimately:

“compel states and localities to compete with one another in a frenzy of deregulation and privatization that will supposedly attract investment . . . Taken to its extreme, this would involve a race to the bottom where perfect efficiency equals no regulation, and the perfect state is a minimal government that simply secures the sanctity of contracts and provides for the common defense.”

DeMaio and others at Reason promoted this radical privatization agenda and advocated the privatization of military housing, education, transportation systems, public roads and highways, housing, major infrastructure projects, and much more.  DeMaio’s agenda is a stitch away from the policies advocated by Carl’s guru, Grover Norquist:  de-fund the unions as part of the right’s long term strategy to cement their long term dominance by eliminating a strong pillar of the Democratic base.

Grover Norquist is a Radical Right ideologue who has broadened his appeal and influence so much that even centrist Republicans like Nathan Fletcher – when he was one – are compelled to bow to his anti-tax pledge.  Covering themselves with the rhetoric of anti-tax activism and government downsizing, Norquist and his right-wing allies are, above all else, proceeding with their plan to take over the country – aiming to achieve permanent dominance for the right wing in the 21st Century.

In order to achieve this, according to Norquist and his disciples like DeMaio, the Right must undermine the core pillars of the democratic (small “d”) base —  meaning labor unions, “big city political machines” dominated by municipal unions, and “taxpayer-funded lobbies” (social service agencies, Legal Aid Societies, etc.); plus for Norquist, it is essential that Social Security be privatized and pension funds of government workers replaced.

Scott Walker has been carrying these policies out in Wisconsin, and it is clear that Carl DeMaio is attempting to carry them out in San Diego, “the Wisconsin of the West”. Certainly, Councilmember Carl has been leading the attack on public unions here as well as pushing the privatization agenda.

The Radical Right’s End Game

‘Is this really the end game of the whole privatization agenda,’ astute observers of the local scene ask, “opening up the public sector for profit making entities, whether it makes sound economic sense or not.  Sell the commons, democracy be damned’?

Ah, the end game. Here is where definitions and an understanding of the socio-economic forces involved are important. If DeMaio, Grover Norquist, Scott Walker have their way, government would be shrunk until it’s drowned in the corporate bathtub.  Public unions would be banned, collective bargaining outlawed. The Safety Net constructed by and since the New Deal and the gains of the Sixties would be dismantled, leaving working people at the total and complete mercy of their employers and the private sector. Government services would be handed over to profit-making entities, and corporate heads and billionaires would blatantly be seating in the chairs of governmental power, with democracy damned, and any semblance of our liberties in shambles. In order for this New Order to be established, dissent could not be tolerated.

The private ownership of government is what it’s all about. This is the vision, the plan, the agenda.

Franklin D. Roosevelt – our 32nd President – warned against such development back in the Thirties. In a message to Congress about the  concentration of economic power on April 29, 1938, he said:

“The liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerate the growth of private power to a point where it comes stronger than their democratic state itself. That, in its essence, is fascism – ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power.”

FDR in 1938 was faced with two fascist warring countries across the Atlantic, and he was warning Congress and the country about the growing concentration of economic power in America, issuing a warning about homegrown versions and trends. He warned that fascism, in essence, was the private ownership of government. (T-shirts with FDR’s quote are available.)

Is that an unthinkable thought: Fascism in America?

This “F-bomb” should not be unthinkable. Despite its careless use at times, flung around at any one or thing of brutality, the word “fascist” does describe someone, some movement, or some state as being or believing in a highly authoritarian, repressive, militaristic, violent, racist system of ever-increasing total control by corporate and capitalist forces, their politicians and leaders.  (There are other definitions of fascism.)

This is a highly emotional issue – the issue of fascism in America. It’s tough for Americans to discuss it openly, as the term itself has been victimized by the hyperbole of both sides of the spectrum, with its true meaning watered down or made confusing.

But it’s also a political judgment. It is a political conclusion and determination that understands the Radical Right’s agenda as one that – leading to its final solution – equates “government reform” with its opposite: the destruction of public government – the end of the Social Contract, and the installation of a system where the corporate chairmen and billionaires run everything. This would be the end to democracy in America, and the establishment – necessarily – of a fascist corporate dictatorship.

This is not far-fetched in today’s highly-charged political season. Coupled with the GOP’s War on Women – with its efforts to over-rule Roe v Wade and the questioning of contraceptives, and the massive and deliberate voter suppression efforts by groups loyal to the Republican Radicals that target African-Americans, other minorities, the poor, students and elderly, – this agenda for the private ownership of government completes the three-legged tripod of the New Order. This is a new order fashioned by class war, complete with the slipping mask of legitimacy.

But what has all this to do with laid-back, sleepy San Diego?

Just Why Did Carl DeMaio Choose San Diego

In 2010 , Donald Cohen and Murtaza H. Baxamusa wrote:

San Diego has become ground zero for the newly energized right wing attack on progressive policies. Right wing politicians and far right industry associations mounted several anti-union ballot measures this year and have pledged to continue the fight in the 2012 elections.

 San Diego was particularly targeted  by the Radical Right to carry out their privatization and anti-union efforts.

 Over the past decade, San Diego has gradually turned “blue,” causing great consternation in right wing circles, which have made it their favorite target. When Carl DeMaio came to San Diego in 2003, his think tank—the Performance Institute—was already closely connected to the national and state conservative infrastructure. He collaborated statewide with the Reason Public Policy Institute to launch a “Citizen’s Budget” for California, laying out an anti tax and antigovernment agenda that propelled Arnold Schwarzenegger towards the right. …

 As Jim Miller observed:

 In San Diego, DeMaio founded the Performance Institute in 2001 and set about bringing the skills he learned at Reason … with Newt Gingrich … to San Diego, where the conservative old guard seemed to be in peril with labor, environmental activists, and other progressives gaining new political clout.  Democrats controlled the city council for the first time in the history of the city and a significant political realignment seemed possible. 

Still DeMaio quickly made himself a presence, setting up a well-funded operation, issuing reports, working the local media, and positioning himself to influence policy if the opportunity arose. Enter the pension crisis like manna from right wing heaven.  DeMaio could now present his agenda as the tax-free solution to San Diego’s nightmare. …

If successful, San Diego would be a model for a national assault on the public sector at the municipal level. … In documents such as “The Citizen’s Budget” … DeMaio argues for the breaking up of public sector unions and the radical reorganization and downsizing of city services like libraries, environmental services, the traffic division, and more as well as the outsourcing of many other city services.

In sum, Carl DeMaio picked San Diego because it represented fertile ground for the Radical Right’s “Revolution”, the model for the assault on the public sector at the municipal level, “the Wisconsin of the West”. Of all the major cities across the country, San Diego had the one of the weakest trade union movements, it lacked a strong African-American community presence in its urban centers, it had a long history of anti-tax activism and GOP dominance until recently, it had a lasting suburban conservatism with harboring generations of retired military – especially Navy, plus it had a legacy of a weak Democratic power structure.

Newt Ginginch and Carl DeMaio saw San Diego as ripe for the picking.  And they and their friends have made  San Diego the Right Wing’s Ground Zero – a “battleground city” in their cultural war to establish permanent dominance.  The right-wing’s assault on our fair city was documented and analyzed in a left-wing think tank in 2005.

 Can We Really Saddle DeMaio With the “F-Bomb” of Fascism?

DeMaio has been called a lot of things, but a “fascist”? How can Carl DeMaio – appearing so smiling and cuddly – be a fascist? Can we really saddle him with this term?

DeMaio is able to cover up his fundamental contradiction, the Big Lie.  His Big Lie is actually like a planetary system revolving around two suns; the first sun of the Big Lie is that for this anti-government crusader, every job he has ever had has been funded by government money. The second sun of the Big Lie is that government is and never was intended to be run like a business.  Government is not business, it is something else entirely.

Carl DeMaio’s other contradiction is that his program of squeezing government until it drowns in the corporate bathtub can hardly fit San Diego where up to one-fifth of all working people in the city have jobs funded directly or indirectly by the government, with the military, the city and county making up a huge proportion, along with defense contractors, the shipping industry, and bio-tech businesses at the government’s teet.

We’ve looked at Carl DeMaio’s history, his policies, programs, and agenda. In San Diego, DeMaio carries the water for the Radical Right, maneuvering for permanent dominance nation-wide, trying to make our city its municipal model.

Yet, Carl is willing to employ the tactics or maintain connections associated with those of a fascist (other terms are “neo-fascist”, or “proto-fascist”). DeMaio is willing to:

  • Use scapegoats to focus voter rage – the government unions, teachers;
  •  Tell the many Little Lies covering up the Big Lie; use of deliberate deception to sway voters;
  •  Maintain a racist edge, with his opposition to Mexican migrants, a la Roger Hedgecock, and support for Arizona-type regulation of minorities;
  •  Favor Big Business at the expense of working people, the poor, and his constituents; DeMaio carries the GOP establishment’s flag, developers, hoteliers, giant contractors;
  •  Forge a coalition of reaction that supports the dismantling of the New Deal’s and Sixties’ Social Network  – a coalition that includes thousands of voters, the major monopolistic press, significant extremist media personalities, and a funding pipeline to the most extremist business centers in America.
  •  Use bullying tactics to intimidate and force his way;
  •   Use the rhetoric of “reform” to radically alter government to suit private corporations; the privatization agenda carried out to its end game is the private ownership of government, by definition a type of fascism.

At the end, we have to say ‘yes’, we can saddle DeMaio with this fascist description. It’s controversial, sure, and some will immediately reject the analogy as hyperbole, overblown rhetoric from the crazy left.  Others will dismiss it as being too dismissive of a complicated picture and personality.

But it’s also apt, it aptly describes Carl DeMaio’s policies – taken to their logical conclusion. Carl is never seen in a military uniform and doesn’t prance around like a storm trooper out of the movies.  Yet it’s his ideology that is key.

You have to ask yourself, would you feel safe and free if Carl was king?



Carl DeMaio A to Z – San Diego CityBeat

Carl DeMaio – Interview with Tom Blair at San Diego Magazine, April 2007

The History of Carl DeMaio – DirtyDeMaio.com

Target San Diego – The Right Wing Assault on Urban Democracy

DeMaio Deconstructed, Part III: The Psychology of a ‘Political Sociopath’ – by Doug Porter, OB Rag

Wisconsin of the West, series, by Jim Miller, OB Rag

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

JEC October 31, 2012 at 11:24 am

Around 2002 I was told by local republican insiders that the GOP was “furious” that democrats gained control of the San Diego city council. Since the days of Nixon, the GOP has claimed San Diego as their own. And now the GOP brings in an outsider, especially groomed for the position – filled with enough contradictions to confuse – a gay republican – and this is the best San Diego has? But remember this carpetbagger from the east beat out an old San Diego family, the Fletchers. As it’s been said, if San Diego didn’t have the weather we’d be broke.


Goatskull November 4, 2012 at 12:54 am

Gays who vote Republican are not uncommon. I live in Hillcrest and know quite a few. They don’t like Carl DeMaio because of who he took contributions from but outside of the same sex marriage issue they are quite conservative.


chris dotson October 31, 2012 at 2:03 pm

Is he the best the GOP can produce? The pulse Im feeling does not look like a good ROI for Carl’s moneyman. Sorta feels like Nobody wants anything to do with any GOP frontrunners – cant blame ’em!


craig klein October 31, 2012 at 4:07 pm

For the record, I asked Nathan Fletcher if he was part of the “Fletcher Hills/Fletcher Parkway” Fletchers and he told me ” No, I am part of the father worked in a factory, Fletchers” Made me think even more of him.


JEC October 31, 2012 at 6:11 pm

Good detail – still, didn’t hurt to share the name – is he a native? San Diegan.


Robert Burns October 31, 2012 at 4:17 pm

I don’t claim to have the political background that you have but I am trained to spot issues and your/FDR’s definition of fascism is controversial. It is much different at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fascism. But, privatization and power seem to be the primary motivations behind these folks seemingly out of control in favor of outsourcing overseas to their own long-term detriment here.


JEC October 31, 2012 at 6:20 pm

The quote comes from a speech FDR delivered before a joint session of Congress on April 29, 1938. As to whether FDR said it – there’s recorded proof. As to definitional controversies – today we debate the rising of the sun, and so… The point is simple, I think; private power can mute the democratic process, silence alternatives and stifle economic and social improvements in favor of sustaining a ruling elite.


John Thomas November 1, 2012 at 5:26 pm

Have you seen this article from the NEW YORK TIMES about the San Diego Mayor Race and the LGBT Community? How often does the New York Times take notice of our little ole mayor races?! Click here to check it out: http://ow.ly/eXp2l


Brian Brady November 1, 2012 at 9:03 pm

“ultra-conservative Reason Foundation ”

That’s too funny. Reason Foundation supports legalization of marijuana, gay marriage, and an end to foreign wars.


Seth November 4, 2012 at 11:05 pm

Pretty surprised that a retread like Filner is polling so well against this guy, but DeMaio comes across as a rather mean-spirited guy. Legitimate pension issues aside, you aren’t going to lead us into the future when 80% of your platform is taking a hatchet to public servants.


jim grant November 5, 2012 at 6:54 am

Demaios own city council member do not like him …sit and watch the televised city council meeting sometime demaio is abrupt, condescending, rude , glib , and has alienated just about every group in san diego …Plus he found an obscure loophole in federal law years ago and started a training program with millions of dollars he gleaned from the government to start this training program FOR federal employees that business later morphed into training the private sector ……then he sold the business and moved to san diego …hes swarmy ….


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