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By Eric Johnson
Published May 08, 2023

State Sen. Scott Wiener reminds us that for generations, California has welcomed people to be who and what they are. State Sen. Scott Wiener reminds us that for generations, California has welcomed people to be who and what they are.

Scott Wiener; Weird Comix; Water Rights

How the SF state senator was changed by California; how our great state spawned a cultural phenomenon; how many Californians are being denied life's most basic necessity.


How California Culture Determines Politics

Ezra Klein of the New York Times is widely and rightly regarded as a preeminent Washington insider, but he is also very much a California boy. Born and raised in Irvine, schooled at UC Santa Cruz and UCLA, he has called San Francisco home for a number of years. As he gets ready to move to New York City, he is taking a last long look at his home state.

Below I preview and briefly excerpt a wide-ranging conversation between Klein and California state Sen. Scott Wiener, the firebrand who recently announced a possible run for US Rep. Nancy Pelosi’s seat. While their talk centers on the limits of classical liberal politics, the two Californians touch briefly and smartly on our state’s cultural legacy.

Wiener, a native of New Jersey, moved as a young man to San Francisco’s Castro District having grown up closeted in a hostile environment. “Something inside told me to go to San Francisco, like generations of queer people have gone to San Francisco,” he recalls.

Wiener was not surprised when the tech boom that transformed his adopted city economically did not change much politically. He says of the armies of workers that bus in and out of SF every day: They could work in tech in a lot of places, and they chose San Francisco because of what it represents.”


Why Democrats Should Pay Attention to California

Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) delivers the keynote address at the  Brookings Institute's Future of the Middle Class Initiative in May, 2019.
Ezra Klein talks to state Sen. Scott Wiener about why progressive policies have failed in a state with no Republicans in power.


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