Thoughts on Rent Control & Inside/Outside Strategy

Been reflecting a lot today on the defeat of Measure C, a rent control measure in the City of Santa Rosa that would have helped soften rent gouging by corporate landlords to 3% per year. I was lent to the “Yes on C” field team part-time, and this morning we learned that we lost in a tragic 52.5%-47.5% vote.

I use the word “tragic” accurately: it was a common sense measure that the majority of Santa Rosans should have been able to easily rally behind. But due to the corrupt influence of the “No on C” side spreading massive lies and propaganda (the most ridiculous gas-lighty stuff), outspending our side by a more than 6 to 1 ratio, more than 1 million dollars in total, a figure far beyond anything Santa Rosa politics had ever seen before, spent only in order to deceive voters and keep capitalist landlord profits high — the working class in Santa Rosa lost.

I’ve been a part of a lot of successful campaigns in my career. I’ve also been a part of a lot of unsuccessful campaigns. And try as we might, working harder and harder, smarter and smarter — we can give so, so much — we still lose all the time. Over time, the overall pattern/trend of “you win some, you lose some” can get to your head, and it becomes harder and harder to picture the plan/path out of these oppressive capitalist systems and to a liberatory world where we might not need to fight these battles in the first place.

And yet, the real-world macro struggles that organizations like my employer (SEIU) engage in are still absolutely necessary, for much of the time we actually do win, helping ease the burdens of — in the grand scheme of things — millions of working class people (of color, and etc.), which is a feat and extent to which the Left struggles to reach.

But it is never enough. Alone it will never be enough. Even as, on a personal level, it can feel like so much: it is not enough.

All this reconfirms my conviction that with my life I must choose to both build the Left (to expand what is possible toward a plane where we might not need to continue fighting in the way we do now, in the first place) while also building mainstream progressive organizations (for example, much of the labor movement, so that people can survive).

Only by both building the Left AND fighting in progressive mainstream organizations may the working class both survive and also hopefully one day thrive like it has never thrived before — into revolution and unto the stars.

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