A quick, and personal, history of San Francisco’s decline from the 1960s to the present
I was born and grew up in San Francisco. My very earliest memories of the City just predate the advent of the hippies. At that time, the City was a solid amalgam of working class people, middle class people, and a nice handful of the very, very rich. Barring the inevitable slums (and all cities have them), San Francisco was a well-maintained, fairly safe place. Trips downtown (usually triggered by a visit to the doctor in the medical building at 450 Sutter) always ended with a visit to the beautiful City of Paris department store to admire the rotunda (which you can still see in the new Nieman Marcus on the same site), a stop at the marble bathrooms in I. Magnin’s (where Macy’s stands now), and treats at Blum’s Restaurant. Women and men still wore hats in public places, and the women usually wore gloves too. The sidewalks were clean, and there were no beggars.
I remember, too, when the hippies came along. Initially, at least from a child’s point of view, it was kind of fun. During the Summer of Love in 1967, colorfully dressed young people would be dancing in Golden Gate Park, waving banners, blowing bubbles and handing out flowers to all who passed by. Of course, when they left the Park at the end of these pretty love-ins, the grass was torn to shreds, the flower beds were destroyed, and a few overdosed teens always lay scattered in the detritus left behind. Soon, though, the magic (such as it was) vanished, and all that was left behind was the miserable slum that was the Haight Ashbury.
Because San Francisco was notorious for her hippies, whenever out-of-town friends came to visit, they’d insist on a tour of the Haight. As a child, therefore, in the late 1960s/early 1970s, I often found myself in that blighted neighborhood. The streets were filthy, covered with a disgusting mixture of garbage, urine and feces. Collapsed on the sidewalks, holding up the walls, were the drug addicts — stringy-haired, bleary eyed and smelly. Because sidewalks are hard and cold, a lot of the druggies would migrate to the green strip of the Panhandle or into Golden Gate Park itself. While the Panhandle quickly became off limits for us children, we still went to the Park quite often — but were always carefully warned about needles in the grass and bums in the bushes.
The hippies weren’t just an aberration. They were the beginning of a deep rot that set into the City. Some of them remained as anchors for the homeless who still pepper San Francisco’s streets, making those streets unsafe or just very, very unpleasant for ordinary people. Others reformed their lifestyles, but kept their Leftist, SDS influenced politics. They grew up, got jobs, bought homes, and became people of influence in the City. Their influence wasn’t immediately obvious. During the 1970s, the City just drifted along. Self-realization and self-actualization and general self-involvement hit the middle class with a bang, with the result that everyone was running around seeking his bliss, pausing only periodically to do some navel gazing.
The City’s gays, contrary to the film Milk, weren’t in a perpetual state of political activism during the 1970s. Instead, they were glorying in the hedonism that was part-and-parcel of escaping the dark closet in which they’d lived for so many years. I can’t say that I blame them — it was a giddy feeling to be free to express a long-hidden sexuality — but the results were deleterious. It’s not healthy for a City to have a neighborhood that’s dedicated to sex, a rather obvious principle that is entirely separate from the fact that the Castro and its myriad bathhouses proved to be perfect Petri dishes for a burgeoning fatal disease that would soon sweep the world.
I was gone from San Francisco during much of the early and mid-1980s, returning to the City only in the late 1980s. Throughout the late 1980s and early 1990s, I was living a wonderfully self-absorbed yuppie lifestyle, but I still managed to figure out that several things had changed since I’d last lived in San Francisco. The most obvious change was the presence of homeless people, not just in the Haight and in Golden Gate Park, but everywhere. The City was no longer making any effort whatsoever to control the homeless problem.
A walk down Montgomery Street, the main artery in San Francisco’s business district, meant one was perpetually under siege from panhandlers, most of them odoriferous and many of them crawling with lice and fleas. Many, if not all, were obviously mentally ill or deeply in thrall to drugs or alcohol. I couldn’t blame them for being where they were. The City’s temperate climate and unenforced vagrancy laws made San Francisco a natural environment for such people.
As for me, I’ve always thought it’s the hallmark of a civilized society that it doesn’t leave its sick and deranged people begging on sidewalks and sleeping in doorways. The ACLU, however, begs to differ. And yes, I know that in the 1950s and 1960s, when the idea first came to de-institutionalize the inebriate homes and insane asylums that were once part of the American landscape, it was an unholy alliance of both the Left and the Right that led the charge. In the years since, however, as the damage to urban areas from de-institutionalization has become clear, the ACLU has come to own the issue, and has routinely insisted that America must allow the helpless insane to live in the street and grub in the garbage. Apparently Leftist civil rights include ensuring that those least able to care for themselves get no help from the rest of us.
The City had also lost what limited control it once had over the worst neighborhoods in town. Nowhere was this more apparent to me than in the area surrounding the venerable Cow Palace. Admittedly, that area was never a very nice one, but I remember as a child going frequently to events at the Cow Palace, going to gymnastic meets at the neighborhood schools, dining on delicious Middle Eastern food at a family-owned restaurant, and visiting people’s houses in the area. Although I didn’t have the vocabulary at the time, looking back I would characterize the neighborhood as lower working class. By the late 1980s, it was just plain scary, with the housing projects dominating and blighting the area. (The worst of those housing projects, incidentally, became so unsustainable that the City eventually destroyed them in an effort at urban renewal. Those that remain are still appalling.)
By the late 1990s, I had left San Francisco for the Marin suburbs, and I’ve never looked back. Marin is ridiculously overpriced, but it’s also beautiful, exquisitely well-maintained and very safe. Although separated from the City by only 12 miles and one bridge, it is another world. The people here may be politically liberal (voting overwhelmingly Democratic), but they’re hardheaded, NIMBY-esque pragmatists when it comes to preserving their own expensive lifestyles.
For the first decade of my Marin life, my visits to the City were very targeted because of the children: I pretty much went only to Golden Gate Park and the Marina District. The Marina District has always been lovely, remaining peculiarly untouched by the City’s ongoing turmoil (perhaps because large parts of it have been under Federal control). There are few things nicer than walking from the Marina waterfront to Fort Point. Also during those years, Golden Gate Park, while unpleasant around the fringes, underwent a renaissance at its center that begin with a completely rebuilt De Young Museum, and ended with a completely rebuilt Academy of Sciences. At times, the City, as Herb Caen would say, still knows how.
San Francisco establishes itself as the cutting edge city of America’s homegrown anarchic totalitarianism
As we enter the second decade of the 21st Century, I find myself in the City more and more often. I don’t visit the well-maintained spots that still charm tourists, though. Instead, my children’s activities take me to parts of town other than the little Potemkin neighborhoods, neatly preserved for the tourists or the affluent liberals concerned with preserving lovely enclaves for themselves. On these journeys, consistently, I am appalled by what I see. The City has morphed into a crazy combination of anarchy and Leftist totalitarianism, all neatly wrapped into a package called “political correctness.” This matters, not just because we’re witnessing the death of what used to be one of the most beautiful, desirable cities in the world, but because it perfectly represents the American Leftist paradigm. In other words, San Francisco is the future of American Leftism, and it’s a very scary future indeed.
Before I go further, it’s useful to define some of the terms I’ll use here, particularly as they apply to San Francisco. San Francisco would characterize itself as a “liberal” city. “Liberal,” of course, is a misnomer. Modern liberalism completely rejects the notion of individual freedom that is inherent in the linguistic root of the term (from the Latin līberālis, from līber, free). Instead, today’s liberalism is a socialist movement that is predicated on placing all power in government. And when all power resides in the government, you end up with totalitarianism or, as some people call it, fascism.
People who aren’t paying attention to what’s going on in the U.S. today think of totalitarianism solely in terms of Nazi Europe, Fascist Italy or, if they’re being honest, Soviet Eastern Europe. If you play a word association game with most Americans, especially American liberals, and feed them the words totalitarian or fascist, they’ll come back with references to concentration camps, gulags, Gestapo and KGB agents.
Jonah Goldberg, however, in his splendid book, Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left, From Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning, figured out that modern western totalitarianism, of the kind practiced by Western European and American progressives/liberals has a more maternal cast than that practiced in Germany, the Soviet Union, China, or other non-Western countries cursed by all-powerful governments.
Unlike their Asian, Latin American or Eastern European counterparts, modern Western socialist governments aren’t going to round us up and shoot us. Instead, they’re going to love us to death. They’ll control what we buy, what we eat, how we get our health care, how we educate our children, what we watch on TV, what light bulbs we screw in, what cars we drive, what phones we use, what shopping bags we use, etc., all with the most beneficent of intentions. We won’t be murdered by gun toting government-funded thugs in concentration camps. Instead, we’ll just be infantilized to the point where we’re incapable of functioning without a Nanny state at our backs — and our fronts and our sides, and wherever else the State can insert itself into a citizen’s life. (By the way, if you want to know what that will look like, just cast your mind back to images of Hurricane Katrina. The self-reliant middle class sat on their porches with shotguns, protecting their families and homes. The welfare classes, destroyed not by their race but by their decades-long dependence on government handouts, were incapable of even moving off the side of the road.)
The one thing that Jonah Goldberg’s book misses is the fact that the New Age, crystal-gazing American socialist utopia does not allow itself to control all people within its political borders. Instead, in the name of political correctness, American socialist cities have a two-tiered system: law-abiding citizens are on the receiving end of heavy-handed government control, while politically correct protected victim classes are removed from any controls whatsoever. The result is the worst of all possible worlds, with law abiding citizens beaten down both by their own government and by those whom the government allows to roam free. San Francisco provides a perfect example of this Western socialist dynamic.
San Francisco’s intense hostility to capitalism
Some of the contrasts between intense government control versus anarchy are very obvious in San Francisco. On the control side, the City’s mandates pry into every area of business and even personal life. At a macro level, the City is very, very hostile to business. It has its own minimum wage law (SF Admin. Code, Secs. 12P, 12R, & Appx. 68), which controls anyone doing business in or with the City of San Francisco. The City apparently feels it’s not a big enough burden on businesses to have the feds set wages too. The minimum wage laws are great for those who can get jobs; but lousy for those who discover that, as a result of the hostile environment, there are fewer businesses around to provide jobs.
San Francisco has long had stringent rent control laws (SF Admin. Code, Sec. 37.1). This is one of those things that benefits renters in the short term, by forcing below market rates for rental property, but that is a disaster in the long term. Because it means that landlords cannot make reasonable money on property, cannot alienate property, and cannot evict tenants, there is no incentive to be a landlord or, if one is a landlord, to maintain the property beyond the bare minimum. By interfering in the marketplace, San Francisco has ensured that there are fewer properties available, and that those available are minimally maintained. It’s therefore lousy to be either a landlord or a tenant in the City.
San Francisco doesn’t just stick its liberal nose into the real estate market. In the name of political correctness, it also makes doing business in and with the City very, very expensive. For example, in its endless effort to promote business that are owned by women and minorities, the City mandates that women and minority owned businesses, when bidding for City work, get the benefit of a special discount in the bidding process (SF Admin. Code, Sec. 12D.A.) While this might have made sense as a short term incentive to allow new businesses to break into a field that had become limited to a few permanent, old-time contractors, it’s now become a permanent and costly boondoggle, funding politically protected businesses on the San Francisco taxpayers’ collective backs.
San Francisco’s need to control its law-abiding citizens
The City also likes to make sure that its residents are environmentally pure. In 2007, the City banned plastic shopping bags, a sop to environmentalists, but a burden to ordinary people:
“We need to get rid of a hell of a lot of this stuff,” Ora Gosey, 56, said outside an Albertsons in the Western Addition. As the retiree spoke, she inched away from a case of grape soda she had placed on the ground as if it didn’t belong to her. It was double-bagged in plastic.
“I needed something,” she admitted, “because it’s so heavy.”
Plastic checkout bags are pretty convenient, Gosey and others said. You can carry them easily down the sidewalk or on a bus, and they’re less prone to ripping than paper. At home, they come in handy for packing trash. And in the park, they’re good to have when you walk the dog.
According to the Film and Bag Federation, a plastics industry group, the bags can also be used to keep things dry in a canoe, make Christmas wreaths and kites, and assist in the nearly impossible task of putting on a wetsuit.
I know that I, personally, never, never throw away those plastic bags. They have more uses in my household than I can count. If I stop getting them free from stores, I’ll just have to go out and buy heavier, less environmentally-friendly plastic bags to use for the same purpose. And sadly, that may be my future too, since Marin is planning on banning both plastic and paper bags. I’ll soon have to become one of those crazy Marin bag ladies who marches into a grocery store carrying an armful of mismatched, costly, inconvenient bags of my own, all of which I have to remember to return to my car once I unload my groceries. Feh! I don’t mind it when serious-minded conservationists, whether liberal or conservative, do this because they want to. I just don’t want to be forced to do so.
The City reserves special animus for smokers. Now, I have to confess here that I loath the smell of cigarette smoke. I don’t have a problem with a person making the decision to smoke, although I think it’s a foolish decision, both in terms of expense and health, but I’m still enough of a libertarian to allow people to make their own bad decisions. The problem with cigarettes, though, is that the smoke doesn’t stay near the smoker. If I’m in a room with you, and you’re smoking, I suddenly find myself enveloped in that foul smelling stuff, which makes me crazy. Even when you leave the room, I can’t get rid of the smell, which has permeated my clothes, my hair and my skin. I therefore don’t have a problem with San Francisco’s original smoking ban, which banned smoking in the workplace. (SF Admin. Code, Appx. 8.) The problem is that the Nanny City, not content with protecting me from your smoke (which I find reasonable), is now intent on protecting you from your smoke, which I find unreasonably intrusive. Thus, a proposed new law would shut down smoking in the great outdoors too (among other venues within the City’s borders):
San Franciscans would see a bevy of more “no smoking” signs in The City if legislation introduced Tuesday is approved.
As The Examiner reported in November, Supervisor Eric Mar reignited the stalled legislation that would forbid smoking in a slew of new settings, adding to existing bans in bars, restaurants, parks, transit stops and taxis.
The bill would expand no-smoking zones to include farmers’ markets, outdoor seating areas of restaurants, cafes and coffee shops, and common areas of multiunit housing complexes.
Smokers would have to light up farther away from entrances, exits, windows and vents of all buildings. And smoking would only be allowed at the curb of sidewalks, streets and alleys. If there is no curb, smoking would be prohibited within 15 feet of entrances or exits, according to the bill.
Smokers also would have to be at least 20 feet from transit shelters, boarding areas and ticket lines, including those for cable cars.
The legislation would ban smoking while waiting in lines at ATMs, theaters, athletic events, concert venues and cab stands.
Another way in which the City makes life difficult for the law abiding is parking. It costs two dollars an hour to park at a downtown meter, which means carrying around a lot of quarters. The high cost is necessitated, in part, by the fact that the City has handed out so many handicapped parking waivers, many meters make no money at all.
As it happens, the insanely expensive meters are the least of the parking problem. The City is also hell on wheels for parking because of all the signs. I’ve driven down blocks that have six or seven different parking control signs per block. Clipping along at 25 or 30 miles per hour, trying to read all the signs, it’s impossible to tell whether you’re going to be barred from parking by the sign limiting parking to residents, the sign limiting parking to businesses, the sign limiting parking to certain hours of the day or night, or the sign limiting parking to certain days of the week because of street cleaning. Decoding the signs might eventually tell you that it’s okay to park on the northern end of the block, but woe betide you if, at the wrong hour of the day, you park at the southern end. And all this doesn’t even count the signs hidden in untrimmed trees, so that you have to guess as to what they say.
As part of its relentless drive to purify itself into a “liberal” paradise, the City also keeps trying to outlaw guns (SF Admin. Code, Appx. 73), ban the Blue Angels, bar the military from San Francisco schools (SF Admin. Code, Appx. 74), shut down JROTC (although a few stalwarts have managed to hold the line), impeach Republican administrations (SF Admin. Code, Appx. 76), and generally work to shut down avenues of protection or expression for any but the most liberal residents.
San Francisco extends special protections to law-breakers
While piling law after law after law onto the already law-abiding, San Francisco goes out of its way to protect the law breaking. It refuses to enforce laws against marijuana (SF Admin. Code sec. 12X), a bit of civil disobedience by the city that ensures that every drug dealer within miles views San Francisco as a sort of commercial Mecca. Whether one believes anti-drug laws are a good thing or a bad thing, I think all reasonable people recognize that, when a single city carves itself out as a dealer’s paradise, it’s setting itself up for drug usage problems of a more serious kind. The same guy who comes here peddling pot isn’t going to leave his harder drugs far behind, since he knows that the wise police officer will ignore everything rather than get into a politically correct wrangle.
More seriously, San Francisco refuses to enforce federal immigration laws. It has classed itself as an official “City and County of Refuge.” (SF Admin. Code, sec. 12H.) The practical effect of this is that, in the City’s own words,
No department, agency, commission, officer or employee of the City and County of San Francisco shall use any City funds or resources to assist in the enforcement of federal immigration law or to gather or disseminate information regarding the immigration status of individuals in the City and County of San Francisco unless such assistance is required by federal or State statute, regulation or court decision. (Sec. 12H.2.)
The City has effectively announced to the world that anyone whose first act upon entering America is to break American law is welcome in San Francisco. As with the City’s refusal to enforce drug laws, people whose crimes go beyond “merely” entering the country illegally know that they are also welcome in San Francisco. Anyone with half a brain (meaning no one on the SF Board of Stupidvisors) could have figured out that this sanctuary policy would end in tragedy. The latest, and most horrible example, of the inevitable tragedy occurred when Edwin Ramos, who came to San Francisco illegally from El Salvador, committed a gangland murder against a father and his two sons, Anthony Bologna, 48, Michael Bologna, 20, and Matthew Bologna, 16, all three of whom were unlucky enough to be in the wrong place at Ramos’ time. The real horror wasn’t even Ramos’ illegal status. It was that the City knew about his illegal status and his criminal propensities, but did nothing because of the Sanctuary Law:
The case prompted public outcry after it emerged that Ramos was convicted of two gang-related felonies when he was 17, but local officials did not contact federal agencies to determine his immigration status.
The Bologna family — or, I should say, what’s left of it after Ramos’ massacre — is suing. I wish them luck, but even a lawsuit won’t change the City’s progressive mindset, one that, as a matter of political ideology, elevates lawbreakers over the law-abiding.
When San Francisco does have laws aimed at making life better for the ordinary citizen, it ignores them. Although it has an official ban against aggressive solicitation (SF Admin. Code, Appx. 25, 69, which the voters forced on the City), that ban is seldom enforced, and the failure to enforce occurs entirely for PC reasons. For example, on an annual basis the local paper reports about the Hell that is Haight Ashbury, a miserable situation that results, in large part, because of the aggressive homeless:
Haight-Ashbury may be its own worst enemy. The neighborhood that hosted the Summer of Love 40 years ago has developed a nasty edge. Sleepy stoner panhandlers have given way to aggressive street punks who stand in the path of pedestrians and demand payment. Park Station police Capt. Teresa Barrett suggests watching “Haight Street” on YouTube to see the mind-set. One kid says if you have the money to shop on Haight, you’d damn well better kick in $20.
The problem with the Haight isn’t lack of funds, or lack of laws. Instead, the neighborhood is besieged because of the “liberals” who have bought into the whole root cause ideology when it comes to crime. These anarchic nanny staters are certain that the bad behaviors that distress the Haight’s residents and visitors alike are a result of the malefactors’ victim status, and have nothing to do with the fact that the City puts no brakes on crime and brutality:
But the city – particularly Haight-Ashbury – has clung to its image as understanding and tolerant. Attempts to install a sit/lie law that would prohibit camping on the sidewalk for hours at a time have gone nowhere. Too mean, too restrictive, critics say.
This kind of urban horror story isn’t limited to the Haight. Golden Gate Park, which also never recovered from the Summer of Love, is periodically in the papers too, again because the Liberals in the City, unable to break away from the theory that the homeless are all victims who just need to be left alone, just can’t bear to get tough on vagrancy, begging, and out-and-out crime. Sure, there are the periodic crackdowns when things become too terrible to contemplate, but then the liberal cycle of letting “victim classes” run the show begins all over again.
Because the City relentlessly defines the drug addicts, alcoholics, and crazy people as victims who can’t be touched, these people live on the streets in filth, eating out of garbage cans, terrorizing ordinary citizens. Whether riding BART, walking down Montgomery Street, trying to catch a show at the Orpheum on Market Street, visiting the public library, going to City Hall, or going to Costco, the law-abiding, taxpaying Average Joe is assaulted by smells, disease, aggressive begging and, sometimes, actual assaults. Still, in liberal eyes, it’s the perpetrators, not the solid citizens, who are defined as victim.
San Francisco ignores existing decency laws to protect sexual “victim classes”
The last thing in my litany of complaints about San Francisco’s reverence for law breakers and burdens on law abiders is the special status it accords licentious behavior. In theory, the City has an obligation to enforce laws supporting public decency. These are the laws that ban public nudity and public sex acts. In fact, because the violations of these laws are routinely committed by gay men, the City turns a blind eye to them. In the City, lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgendered individuals are a protected class, and that means that they get to break laws with impunity. Incidentally, what follows is not meant to be a tirade against homosexuality. The fact is that most of San Francisco’s gays are not running around naked, peeing in the streets (and on each other), or having sex in public. Only a small percentage are doing so — but the kicker is that they do so because the City lets them! This is, therefore, a tirade against a City that refuses to enforce public decency laws because of political correctness.
I’m not going to pollute this post with pictures of the truly appalling orgies that routinely take place in San Francisco’s streets. Zombie has created long photo essays showing the Folsom Street Fair, and the Dore Up Your Alley Fair, both of which involve, not just nudity, but some perverse sexual practices I bet some of you haven’t even heard of — and all of them take place out in the open, on public streets. The police are present (Zombie documents them), but it is obvious that they are under orders not to interfere.
It is possible (although difficult) to argue that two street fairs, which take place in a limited number of blocks in a carefully defined neighborhood should be ignored. It’s much more difficult to ignore public licentiousness that takes over a long-standing San Francisco tradition, and that drags nudity and bizarre sexual practices right into Golden Gate Park. Last year, my family went to see the crowd at the San Francisco Bay to Breakers race — a race that was started 96 years ago to commemorate the San Francisco Earthquake and that, for many years, was a fairly straightforward race, starting at the Bay, traversing the City (including Golden Gate Park), and ending at the Pacific. About a decade ago, it became an occasion at which San Franciscans celebrate their joie de vivre, with many of them turning the event into a giant costume party. Having heard about the fun costumes, my husband and I thought it would be fun to take the kids. Boy, were we wrong!
What’s interesting about San Franciscans is that, when they get into costume, so many of them opt, not for charm or cleverness, but for perversion. Of course that doesn’t go for 100% of the race’s participants. It probably applies to only about 3% of them — but 3% of 100,000 is still about 3,000 people parading through San Francisco’s streets and parks celebrating their peculiar sexual fantasies.
That’s why, within seconds of entering Golden Gate Park, my children were confronted with the fascinating spectacle of an aged gentleman who had wrapped rings around himself, hugely inflating his scrotum, which he then proceeded to shake at the crowd. In a normal environment, he would have been arrested. Here, he was just part of the scenery.
This man wasn’t the only naked one. There were lots of naked people. Probably 90% of them had embarrassingly ugly bodies. Why is it always those with the most avoirdupois, the most pendulous breasts, the most bizarrely tufted body hair, the most mottled skin, and the smallest penises who feel this peculiar compulsion to parade around well-attended public spots in the altogether?
Was it any surprise then, that it was these exhibitionists, despite the vast array of porta-potties, who also felt the irresistible compulsion to pee in the bushes?
There was also a lot of drinking, lots and lots.
So, in the space of a few very painful minutes, we were confronted with public nudity, public urination, and public drunkenness — and the cops did nothing.
I don’t blame the San Francisco police officers for doing nothing. Most of them, I know, are family people who probably find the spectacle of public nakedness, drunkenness and urination as off-putting as you and I do. The fact is that they do nothing because they are instructed to stand aside and let politically correct classes — in this case, people who get a kick out of deviant exhibitionism — do their own thing without fear of civil retribution. The fact that ordinary people are assaulted by the sights and the filth is irrelevant because, in the New Age, crystal gazing, politically correct Progressive world of American Leftism, ordinary people count for nothing. They exist to be taxed and controlled, so that the others can live free.
This has been a really long post — the longest, I think, that I have ever written. I write it as a tocsin, warning Americans that there is nothing benign about American Leftism, and that it is even more dangerous than the nanny state some people seem willing to accept as the price of living in the modern world. Because American leftists are as committed to elevating the rights of the criminals, the crazies and the perverts as they are to taxing, quashing and directing the middle and working classes, we can anticipate the worst of all possible worlds: an America in which ordinary people live under totalitarian control and socialist taxation, while the worst elements in every society are allowed to run rampant.
Keep this in mind as you head to the polling place in 2010.