Failed Republican speaker candidate Rep. Jim Jordan went to his social media account on X (formerly Twitter) to post an attack on “Democrat-run San Francisco.”
-Restaurants shutting down every week.
-Rampant drug use
It is a sentiment spread by conservatives and parroted by people like Elon Musk and Joe Rogan, calling San Francisco’s visible homeless population a “zombie apocalypse.” Jordan pasted a Fox News article as his source. That Fox News article was a reimagining of a recently published story in the San Francisco Chronicle about the ongoing struggles for small business owners on Valencia Street in the Mission District of San Francisco. Jordan’s sentiments echo Fox News, which focused their dreck reporting on a single line in the Chronicle story. But the Fox article is not supported by facts. At all.
According to a new study out of the Council on Criminal Justice, San Francisco has seen declining retail crime and has “returned to pre-pandemic levels.” This comes after media from all over the country reported breathlessly on a spike in retail crime in San Francisco for about five months between 2021 and 2022. It is this singular moment that Republicans (and libertarians) have seized on to argue why continuing wealth inequality need not be brought up when discussing the failures of our economy.
The anatomy of Jordan’s bit of right-wing (and centrist) mythology in this case begins with a thin analysis piece by the Chronicle that is bastardized further by Fox News. The issues with the once-bustling commercial dining district on Valencia go back to the pandemic. It is no surprise that small business owners were profoundly affected by the pandemic, and the Trump administration’s handling of small business loans did very little to help mom-and-pop businesses such as restaurants.
Because Valencia Street in San Francisco was such a specific commercial district pre-pandemic, its slow recovery (or lack thereof) has been the subject of many articles over the past couple of years. The Chronicle’s story talks about the struggles of new businesses that moved in after the pandemic. The main thrust of the story is that business is down and some small business owners feel like new bike lanes aren’t helping because they take away parking spaces. While this, at least, isn’t about a mythical crime wave, it also doesn’t get to the real story. San Francisco has twice as many parking spaces as people, and has hampered development of a more comprehensive public transit system for some time. Losing around 70 parking spaces to bike lanes doesn’t explain higher rents, inflation, and lower spending across the country on things like restaurants.
Just one word explains why Democrats had such a massive election night on Tuesday: abortion. On the newest episode of The Downballot, co-hosts David Nir and David Beard recap all the top races through the lens of reproductive rights, which continue to motivate Democrats and even win over a key swath of Republican voters. Nowhere was that more evident than in Ohio, which voted to enshrine the right to an abortion into the state constitution by a double-digit margin, despite countless GOP attempts to derail the effort.