Cleaning San Francisco is a Choice

San Francisco has demonstrated that big-city politicians could solve the problems they campaign on at any moment.

Written by Hudson Crozier

What’s happening: City employees in the SoMa district of San Francisco, California, have temporarily removed homeless people and camps, cleaned the streets, and put up a 10-foot fence around a conference building to prepare for a visit from Chinese President Xi Jinping.

  • The explanation: "I know folks are saying, 'Oh they're just cleaning up this place because all those fancy leaders are coming to town,’” said California Gov. Gavin Newsom. “That’s true,” he remarked, adding that the cleanup had been in motion for months.

Why it matters: San Francisco streets that are normally littered with drugs, human waste, disease, and the mentally ill are now unrecognizable for their cleanliness and safety. Officials have quickly done what liberal politicians have promised to do for decades by eliminating these conditions — but only to impress a foreign leader.

It’s a choice: San Francisco has been one of many blue cities losing record numbers of residents, with crime and lawlessness seen as key factors. Jinping’s visit has demonstrated that big-city politicians could solve the problems they campaign on at any moment.

  • But they don’t: Left-wing activists, politicians, and journalists constantly frame these issues as too complicated for a government crackdown. Restricting behavior, imposing punishments, and demanding order are seen as right-wing and portrayed negatively. This culture has made iconic American cities unlivable for many.

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