It's prog-on-prog class warfare in San Francisco

Thomas Lifson
The internal contradictions of the progressive alliance that dominates San Francisco have erupted into violence, and there is every sign it will continue. Conservatives have an opportunity if we are clever.  Official and unofficial harassment of the “Google Buses” (fleets of luxury busses that ferry workers from the lively and trendy parts of San Francisco and Oakland down to boring Silicon Valley, to Google, Yahoo, and a few other major companies) is only the tip of the iceberg.

People who wear Google Glass have been assaulted in bars and on the street. Smart Cars have been tipped, like legendary cow tipping in rural areas. The hip are in envy-fuelled rebellion against the moneyed new elite of high tech. Both groups count themselves as proud progressives and in general look down on the rest of America. But the gusher of money from high technology is flooding the 49 square miles of San Francisco with so many people making more money than they ever expected that this bond of elitism is fraying.

But these overt incidents are only the most visible face of underlying tensions that I only began to grasp last week when a social event brought me to visit a part of San Francisco called Hayes Valley. Until the Loma Prieta earthquake, HV was rather slummy owing to an oppressive elevated highway that cast shadows and added noise and bad air to the area. But that highway was demolished, and the gentrification began, driven by the fact that right next door was the San Francisco Civic Center, and beyond that downtown. The San Francisco Chronicle summarizes:

Twenty years ago, the thought of finding one of San Francisco's ultra-chic corridors in Hayes Valley would have been considered absurd. Like New York City's Times Square of old, the area, bordered by the Van Ness performing-arts district and the Western Addition around Laguna Street, was a seedy reminder for opera and symphony patrons of the city's homeless and drug problems. But over the past decades, Hayes Valley has developed into a haven for haute couture.

I had not set foot on Hayes Street for at least a couple of decades when I went there last week. I was utterly shocked by the transformation, and more than that, by the hostility of some of the people I was with toward the newcomers. Twitter’s headquarters is nearby, as are other high tech firms, and around lunch time the sidewalks were crowded with brusque, expensively-dressed people hurrying into expensive restaurants.

The old-timers in Hayes Valley and much of the rest of San Francisco pride themselves on being laid-back. Some of them are veterans of the Summer of Love in 1968 which brought the Hippies but many more are simply akin to that era in personal style.

And they make nasty remarks about the pushy and self-important people they see forcing their rents up. Resentment, hatred, and the uglier side of human nature are manifest.

Appeals to the market as a legitimate arbiter of who gets what go nowhere with this crowd.

So I look forward to more open clashes. For the rest of us, that may mean more than just a series of amusing follies on display. The Technorati class that is taking over our economy has been dominated by progressive thinking. But that same thinking is now being turned against them.

Conservatives should be thinking about how we can flip this important rising force in American life to our side.

The internal contradictions of the progressive alliance that dominates San Francisco have erupted into violence, and there is every sign it will continue. Conservatives have an opportunity if we are clever.  Official and unofficial harassment of the “Google Buses” (fleets of luxury busses that ferry workers from the lively and trendy parts of San Francisco and Oakland down to boring Silicon Valley, to Google, Yahoo, and a few other major companies) is only the tip of the iceberg.

People who wear Google Glass have been assaulted in bars and on the street. Smart Cars have been tipped, like legendary cow tipping in rural areas. The hip are in envy-fuelled rebellion against the moneyed new elite of high tech. Both groups count themselves as proud progressives and in general look down on the rest of America. But the gusher of money from high technology is flooding the 49 square miles of San Francisco with so many people making more money than they ever expected that this bond of elitism is fraying.

But these overt incidents are only the most visible face of underlying tensions that I only began to grasp last week when a social event brought me to visit a part of San Francisco called Hayes Valley. Until the Loma Prieta earthquake, HV was rather slummy owing to an oppressive elevated highway that cast shadows and added noise and bad air to the area. But that highway was demolished, and the gentrification began, driven by the fact that right next door was the San Francisco Civic Center, and beyond that downtown. The San Francisco Chronicle summarizes:

Twenty years ago, the thought of finding one of San Francisco's ultra-chic corridors in Hayes Valley would have been considered absurd. Like New York City's Times Square of old, the area, bordered by the Van Ness performing-arts district and the Western Addition around Laguna Street, was a seedy reminder for opera and symphony patrons of the city's homeless and drug problems. But over the past decades, Hayes Valley has developed into a haven for haute couture.

I had not set foot on Hayes Street for at least a couple of decades when I went there last week. I was utterly shocked by the transformation, and more than that, by the hostility of some of the people I was with toward the newcomers. Twitter’s headquarters is nearby, as are other high tech firms, and around lunch time the sidewalks were crowded with brusque, expensively-dressed people hurrying into expensive restaurants.

The old-timers in Hayes Valley and much of the rest of San Francisco pride themselves on being laid-back. Some of them are veterans of the Summer of Love in 1968 which brought the Hippies but many more are simply akin to that era in personal style.

And they make nasty remarks about the pushy and self-important people they see forcing their rents up. Resentment, hatred, and the uglier side of human nature are manifest.

Appeals to the market as a legitimate arbiter of who gets what go nowhere with this crowd.

So I look forward to more open clashes. For the rest of us, that may mean more than just a series of amusing follies on display. The Technorati class that is taking over our economy has been dominated by progressive thinking. But that same thinking is now being turned against them.

Conservatives should be thinking about how we can flip this important rising force in American life to our side.