A Republican Walks Into a San Francisco Bar…

Photo: Emily Loftis

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.

On the evening that 80 percent of San Francisco voters elected Nancy Pelosi, the town’s few Republicans hunkered down in Marina District bar Eastside West to watch the national results roll in. A light-up “Don’t Tread on Me” pin blinked red and blue from one coat lapel. “This bar is an island of sanity!” shouted one GOPer, waving his arms wildly near an empty beer glass. “In a peninsula—a peninsula of…” his voice trailed off.

He meant: A peninsula of almost no Republicans. Of every ten San Francisco voters, about five are registered Democrats. Three decline to state their political affiliations. And less than one is Republican. Less than one? Is that even possible?

It’s not easy being red in the Bay Area. One drinker admitted that he avoided putting up GOP bumper stickers, too worried that his car would be keyed. The young Stanford grad, now a marketing professional, refused to give his name for fear a potential employer might someday see this story online and nix him in the hiring process. In San Francisco, he said, he’s much more likely to talk about his Catholic faith than about his politics.

Paranoid, maybe? “[Liberals] should go to West Texas and try to live there,” he said. “They’d probably feel the same way I do.”

A few blocks away at John Dennis’ election night party, the bar served wine instead of beer; the crowd looked a good 20 years older.

The disposition there, despite the unconventional Republican’s slim-to-none chances of defeating Pelosi, was a bit more upbeat. Lisa Rossetti, the fundraising director for Dennis’ campaign, saw the national turnover as a mixed bag. “On the one hand I’m thrilled, on the other hand I’m skeptical,” she said. “If they’re gonna be like the guys who came in with [Newt] Gingrich, we’re done. We’ll need a new party.”

Like Dennis, Rossetti wanted to do away with DADT and supported pot legalization. But living here hasn’t shaken her fears of skyrocketing federal debt or her resistance to government encroachment, which is why she still votes Republican (most of the time). In Dennis, she said she’d finally found a candidate who spoke her particular political language.

John Dennis watches the poll results.: Photo by Emily LoftisJohn Dennis watches the poll results: Photo by Emily Loftis

An hour or so after the trays of mushroom profiteroles had made their rounds, the candidate in the requisite red tie arrived. Two TV screens flashed red state victories on Fox News’ election night segment, but would not—everyone in the room already knew—light up in his favor.

Still, Dennis said he’s had a lot of good conversations with local liberals. And he has advice for those who might face similar straits should the national mood shift again: “Find your libertarian mojo.”

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

We Recommend

Latest