by Joel Kotkin
Thursday, 17
February 2022
Dispatch
10:23

The start of a counter-revolution in San Francisco

The ousting of the city's woke school board is a sign of things to come
by Joel Kotkin
San Francisco School board commissioner Alison Collins was ousted this week. Credit: Getty

This week’s massive vote against three of San Francisco’s most woke school board members represents a triumphant outbreak of reason in one of the most insanely progressive places on the planet. But it is also, far more consequently, a rejection — in this case by over 70% of voters — of radical Left politics that is building up across the country.

To be fair, the recalled board members were defeated not just for extreme politics, but for their reluctance to open schools during the pandemic. Instead of re-opening schools during the pandemic, they advanced a plan to rename 44 public schools named after figures such as George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Dianne Feinstein and Abraham Lincoln, with one board member even claiming that “black lives didn’t matter” to the president who freed America’s slaves.

The school board also engaged in openly racial taunting towards the city’s largest non-white group — Asians — who constitute over one-third of the city population. The now-recalled board vice President, Allison Collins, once wrote a long Twitter thread accusing Asian Americans of using “white supremacist thinking to assimilate and ‘get ahead’,” and comparing them to a “house n****r” (she added the asterisks and did not spell out the word).

These sentiments, combined with the anger at the schools’ worst record in California for poor students, motivated Asian parents in particular. Analysts ascribe the recall in large part to the activation of Asian voters who were motivated to keep admissions to elite high schools based on merit. But Heather Gonzales, a San Francisco native with long ties to California Democrats, told me it was mostly a “mum’s revolt. It was mums of all races saying they had had enough.”

Yet it would be a mistake to see the San Francisco vote as an isolated case. In fact, it is part of a widening grassroots revolt against urban chaos. Last November, Seattle, a city with a political orientation as blue as San Francisco, removed its city attorney and elected a moderate Republican. This June, San Francisco voters may also recall their ultra-Left District Attorney, Chesa Boudin, and there’s also a movement in Los Angeles to ditch their own radical DA.

Critically, this is not just a rebellion among whites or Asians; African-American voters, rejecting the “defunding” agenda of the far-Left, have generally supported more police. In Houston, black politicians, like Mayor Sylvester Turner, have backed the police officers against largely white progressive activists. Similarly Buffalo, where close to 40% of the population is black, this year rejected a socialist candidate who won the Democratic primary, re-electing with write-ins their centrist African-American Mayor. Among Latinos as well, more conservative candidates have gained favour both in Miami and across south Texas cities.

This is not especially a Republican or conservative movement. In the post-Trump era, being a Republican is toxic in urban settings, even among moderates. Greg Youngkin, the GOP’s blue state poster boy, won largely in white suburbs and failed to turn in a strong performance in Virginia’s black communities. Rick Caruso, a developer running for Mayor in LA, actually registered as a Democrat before entering the race. Yet the shift to the centre in urban areas seems real, and hopefully will slow the deterioration of America’s great cities, and perhaps revive some of the laggards as well.

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Graham Stull
Graham Stull
7 months ago

It’s just a pity that it has to go so far before people start to wake up and realise that such patently bad ideas will have consequences.

Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
7 months ago
Reply to  Graham Stull

It is a bit like alcohol. A few Democratic ideas make the public feel fuzzy and warm and benevolent but too much extreme Democratic ideas makes for a non-functioning addict that upsets all their old friends and only hitting rock-bottom sets the road back to sense and sobriety. Unfortunately, like alcoholics the answer is to avoid alcohol altogether and avoid voting Democrat however much it just appears a nice sociable and friendly activity.

Graham Stull
Graham Stull
7 months ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

Yes, but can we agree that it is more like a cheap pint of Carlsberg brewed under license, rather than like one of my lovely Westmalle Tripels?

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
7 months ago
Reply to  Graham Stull

Winsome Sears is the best political figure of 2022, an absolutely amazing speaker and persona. Born in Jamaica, come to USA in the 1960s as a young child, worked hard at school, became a US Marine. She talks of being a leader, how leaders must have the trust of their troops so they fallow, and that means integrity. A US Marine – a fantastic quality for a politician, real world lessons, and now Lieutenant Governor of Virgina with Youngkin as Governor.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K-YUYX33VsM

If you do not know her, she is the absolute antithesis of the Squad – she gives me great hope when ever I see her. USA is not done yet.

Graham Stull
Graham Stull
7 months ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

Interesting. I will watch out for her

Justin Clark
Justin Clark
7 months ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

yes yes yes – superb! what a role model!

Guy Holme
Guy Holme
7 months ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

Thank you, what a lady!

Gunner Myrtle
Gunner Myrtle
7 months ago
Reply to  Graham Stull

Seriously. People act like this is some kind of victory – but how did these people get elected in the first place? Their platforms and rhetoric are literally deranged. Who voted for them. What were they thinking. I would love to see an interview with a middle class Democratic voter where they honestly explain how they thought voting for these people was a good idea.

Sean Penley
Sean Penley
7 months ago
Reply to  Gunner Myrtle

Short answer: tribal voting. It was bad in my home area when I was young, but faded in time. Eventually the party that felt it owned everyone’s votes angered the voters to the point it ceased to be able to win elections at all. I doubt this vote in SF was a turn of the tide, but it at least showed the people there can vote non-tribally when they actually pay attention to the issues. Although it should also be said, SF genuinely is the furthest left of anyplace in the US. So this won’t change its overall political makeup, but the voters are showing they have limits on what they will tolerate.

Dawn McD
Dawn McD
7 months ago
Reply to  Sean Penley

San Francisco is 6% Republican. That number is shocking. I moved out of S.F. 25 years ago, and now the city seems to be turning into a case study in disintegration and decay.

Dawn McD
Dawn McD
7 months ago
Reply to  Gunner Myrtle

It’s impossible to convince most Democrats, especially older ones, that the party they are voting for is not the same one that it was 20 years ago (that’s what happened to me before I saw the light during the pandemic). They are trapped in a cult and refuse to come out. I’m on the verge of losing a friend of almost 40 years, who has become overtly hostile to any suggestion from me that goes against her core progressive beliefs.
Two brief examples: a link to Christopher Rufo explaining CRT was met with “I see he’s been on Tucker Carlson but not MSNBC” and a comment that CRT is “just trying to teach accurate history.” Within the last week, a suggestion to look at Viva Frei’s livestream of the truckers in Ottawa was met with derision regarding Frei’s being a lawyer (inherently suspicious character, apparently), and skepticism about why she should “trust some stranger on the Internet.” This statement was so irrational that I had no response. We can’t discuss politics at all at this point, and she is not coming out of the cult. To her consternation, her grandson just went through four years of college and came out a libertarian, which I think is a miracle.

Peter LR
Peter LR
7 months ago

“wrote a long Twitter thread accusing Asian Americans of using “white supremacist thinking to assimilate and ‘get ahead’,” and comparing them to a “house n****r”
Do these people actually believe what they write; or are they merely grandstanding for a social media gallery?

James Joyce
James Joyce
7 months ago
Reply to  Peter LR

I think it’s a bit of both. In many ways, the more inflamatory the statements, the better they work, though this applies only to COWs (Citizens of Wakanda). The left echo chamber supports them no matter what.
Any idea how hard it is to get a recall on the ballot? VERY hard. This is a small step, but let’s see who the mayor appoints….

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
7 months ago

 it would be a mistake to see the San Francisco vote as an isolated.
I am sorry but we have been hearing this stuff for the last 40 years and the march of the left seems to continue relentlessly, infiltrating and the corrupting our institutions and public services all at the public expense.
Nothing is going to change until there is a complete clear out .

James Joyce
James Joyce
7 months ago

“To be fair, the recalled board members were defeated not just for extreme politics, but for their reluctance to open schools during the pandemic.”
The reluctance to open schools IS extreme politics! Have you not been paying attention? Yes, there are other forms of extreme politics, but this is a huge one. 
There is not much to this article, keeping in mind that the recall means that the extreme left nutter Mayor of SF will appoint their replacements. Do you think there will be any significant change? Certainly the people recalled are vile, disgusting, stupid people, but will their replacements be significantly better? I doubt it.
This article is far too optimistic. These are perhaps victories in some small skirmishes, but the institutional bureaucracy, the Deep State (yes, it’s a real thing) still exists, is thriving, and can’t be recalled. The author might have noted that the NEA, a nationwide union for teachers (and against students) has about 3mm members, and has taken the position that schools can only open when they are “safe.” 
And what about Rick Caruso. I read this a few times, but how is LA developer Rick Caruso registering as a Democrat a big deal? I just don’t get it, and the article utterly failed to explain the significance. Because he wants to win? Because it’s virtually impossible for Republicans to win? How is that news? How does that relate to the story?
If the author’s prediction for the improvement of America’s great cities is to come true–no sure thing– it will take decades or generations. The damage is far too deep, and control is held by institutions–such as teachers unions, police unions, corrections officers (prison guards) that have too much skin in the game and are far too powerful. Because government unions are seen as largely COW (Citizens of Wakanda) organizations, they are untouchable lest the race card be played. 

Liz Walsh
Liz Walsh
7 months ago
Reply to  James Joyce

And sadly, many teachers, especially in California where liability insurance is as expensive as it is necessary, are captives of their unions. The unions pick up the liability insurance, so they function as a protection racket. Having been one, I’d say many,many teachers would much rather just teach their subjects, and deconstruct “Social Studies”, a bogus cross-curricular subject to begin with. I can’t say if the laboring unions (SEIU etc.) are the same. I suspect they use their protection of illegals as a leverage. Unions no longer seem to function as delegates of their workers, they have become parasitic and their mission has crept to prioritize their own administrative self-interest. (Come to think of it, this could describe the trajectory of some Western “democracies” I could name …)

Last edited 7 months ago by Liz Walsh
Douglas H
Douglas H
7 months ago
Reply to  Liz Walsh

Thanks, Liz. You should write an article about this, I’d be interested in hearing more about the corruption of the teachers’ unions .

BTW The Tablet recently ran a long article on how large-scale illegal immigration helps employers to keep the workforce under control

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
7 months ago

It’s rather funny that we have to rely on the hatred for Asians of white ‘progressives’ and activist left blacks to stop woke policies. They obsess about anti racism and then find ‘acceptably woke’ excuses to be racist against Asians.
It may be racially stereotypical to say it – but like the Jews, I’m thankful that many Asians work so hard to integrate culturally (whilst maintaining valued aspects of their cultures) and be successful.
Which is why the U.K. will benefit from immigrants from Hong Kong.

J Bryant
J Bryant
7 months ago

This is good news but my sense is the triumphalist tone of the article is premature. It’s only when woke policies touch the lives of otherwise woke middle class urbanites that they rebel. Once the kids are safely back in school and teachers tone down the race rhetoric that negatively affects any minority, notably asians, we might go back to progressive politics as usual. Of course it will still be ok to target whites.
The real test will be the midterms. If covid is less of a threat, kids are returning to school and life is more or less normal, the Democrats might yet do well. Let’s hope a majority of people have fully internalized the long-term danger of the Democrats’ agenda.

Liz Walsh
Liz Walsh
7 months ago

A realist is a lefty who’s been mugged! Messing with one’s children’s education gets real, fast. (Never forget Mrs. Thatcher’s start as Minister of Education) As for what I, a Bay Area native by birth, regard as the tipping point, the planned degradation of Lowell High — though the Board did not stint in proposed changes offensive in part to all — the shining summit of many Asian-American aspirations — a Spanish dicho says it best: :Find out whose dog it is, before you beat it.” Ambitious, taxpaying Asian parents who are made to feel disenfranchised, especially in the matter of their progeny, were the wrong sleeping tiger to poke.

Gunner Myrtle
Gunner Myrtle
7 months ago
Reply to  Liz Walsh

I am going to steal that expression – cultural appropriation be damned!

Andrea X
Andrea X
7 months ago

And again: “most insanely progressive”
What does progressive mean??

Doug Pingel
Doug Pingel
7 months ago
Reply to  Andrea X

Usually people from the extreme left who believe that revolution must be a continuous process. Often inventing enemy (Recidivists/ Backsliders?) among their own collegues and supporters..

Sean Penley
Sean Penley
7 months ago
Reply to  Andrea X

It’s a term socialists have been using since the late 1800s. Then as now, the ones who identify with that term are more focused on the cultural aspects of socialism, but that doesn’t imply a rejection of the economic aspect. They just believe you change the culture first to prepare it for the economic platform of socialism. The reason they worry me so much is I think they grasped the better solution than what the socialists across most of Europe were thinking at the time– though it should also be noted a lot of the current progressive platform– the so- called woke ideology– was actually brought over by Weimar academics in the 1920s following progressivism’s collapse after the Wilson administration and his authoritarianism.