Matt Gonzalez Endorsement Speech, 2003

On December 7, 2003, Larry Harvey spoke on behalf of Mayoral candidate Matt Gonzalez at a voter rally in San Francisco’s Civic Center. Here’s the transcript:

“Several years ago, I shook the hand of Harvey Milk. I met him in my Laundromat. He was alone: no flacks, no spin-doctors, no consultants. He was running for supervisor of San Francisco. And I liked him immensely and I voted for him. He really didn’t have much money. He neglected his little camera shop for politics. He was a noble man who became my hero, and he never would have got into office without district elections. Then he was shot and killed — we all remember — and so was George Moscone. And after that, everything just seemed to go downhill.

Big money stepped in. It got rid of district elections. It silenced all our voices, but the neighborhoods fought back, and now we have district supervisors, again. About three weeks ago, I shook the hand of Matt Gonzalez. I liked him, too. He wouldn’t be running for Mayor if it wasn’t for district elections, and he hasn’t got much money, either, judging from the campaign contributions on the other side. And yet, I have come to believe that this is our chance — this is our chance — to make up for the last 25 years.

You know, everywhere I go in this country I hear people call San Francisco a world-class city. But you and I know that it’s not a big city. It’s really a town that is made up of neighborhoods. And, if it has any claim to being a great city, it is because of its grassroots culture. Our city has been the incubator of great social movements, and that is not because of money or the high-rises downtown. It is because we’re part of a community that’s very like another city that I know of in the Black Rock Desert. People come here as they come to it, to be themselves and live with other people who are also free to be themselves. We are here because we want to live authentically. And if all of you, and all of the people that you know, will just participate in this election, we can re-achieve a kind of greatness that will send that message out across the nation and around the world.

You don’t have to feel co-opted. You don’t have to say that things have got too big, that money talks. You don’t have to hide in a subculture and not speak to your neighbors. Big money doesn’t have the power to co-opt us. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s not the man to tell us what to do. We can collectively express ourselves. Now, at the beginning of the 21st Century, we, united as San Franciscans, can teach the United States of America what it can become. And, hey, I’m not even a Green, but I’m voting for Gonzalez on December 9th.

It’s time for people to do what we do every year at Burning Man. Don’t be a spectator. Get out there. Connect like crazy with people you don’t even know. Tell them that they must participate, and, above all else, please, welcome them home.”