In less than two weeks, San Francisco residents will cast a vote to recall three leftist school board members, Board President Gabriela López, Vice President Faauuga Moliga, and Commissioner Alison Collins. These three have been criticized for several issues, including extended school closures in response to Covid-19, racial bias against Asian Americans, and the board’s zealous pursuit of social justice at the expense of providing quality education to all students.
The loudest supporters of these board members are a group called “San Francisco Berniecrats,” Democrat supporters of socialist Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ 2016 presidential campaign. The group’s leader is Brandee Marckmann, who campaigned for board members Collins and Lopez. Hoping to preserve the three members’ seats, Berniecrats have resorted to some dirty tactics against the recall campaign and its supporters ahead of the election day on February 15th.
One of the tactics SF Berniecrats is known for is actively spreading misinformation. Marckmann created a spider web meme, which demeans the recall campaign as a deep-pocket, right-wing, anti-racist conspiracy movement. When a parent called Marckmann out in a public forum to explain the spider web meme, below, Marckmann feigned being a victim and refused to answer.
It is laughable to claim the recall as a right-wing conspiracy because San Francisco is one of the farthest left cities in America. The city is where Democrat leaders such as Sen. Dianne Feinstein, Vice President Kamala Harris, and California’s current governor Gavin Newsom launched their political careers. More than 80 percent of San Francisco residents voted for President Joe Biden in the 2020 election. The Republican Party has little presence and influence here, and the local GOP’s website doesn’t even mention the school board recall election.
Recall’s Real Roots
Polls from last year showed that three board members and the policies they advocated have been deeply unpopular among most San Francisco residents, especially among parents with children. The recall campaign began as a grassroots effort organized by frustrated parents, many of them immigrants.
Siva Raj, the co-founder of the recall campaign and a Democrat, said in an interview that he was shocked that the school board not only didn’t prioritize school reopening in the last two years, but the board was “actively pushing parents away, and they were not listening to parents at all.”
Parents wanted to recall the entire school board, but most members haven’t been on the board long enough to be eligible for the recall. Therefore, the recall campaign focuses on the three board members who are qualified and have played critical roles in controversial decisions, such as renaming 44 schools, including Abraham Lincoln and George Washington High Schools, and replacing merit-based admission to Lowell High school with a lottery system.
Dirty Infighting Among Democrats
Some of the city’s Democrat leaders, including Mayor London Breed, have expressed their support for the recall campaign. Matt Gonzalez, former president of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors and currently chief attorney in the San Francisco Public Defender’s Office, also backs the recall effort. In a recent article for Medium, Gonzalez wrote,“Opponents of the recall are attempting to label all recalls as Republican-inspired. This may be a good tactical election ploy, but it isn’t anywhere near the truth.”
Gonzalez noted that the parents who started the recall campaigns were Democrats and most of those who signed the recall petitions are registered Democrats. In terms of funding, Gonzalez pointed out that “over 80% of the individuals contributing to the recall are San Franciscan residents, while opponents of the recall are getting over half of their contributions from outside the city.”
But truth and decency seem to matter little to SF Berniecrats. Besides spreading misinformation about the recall, Berniecrats have tried to silence recall supporters through intimidation. Garry Tan, a vocal supporter of the recall movement and father of two children, disclosed on Twitter this week that his home address was doxxed by Marckmann.
After Tan complained to Twitter, the company took down Marckmann’s tweet but didn’t freeze her Twitter account. Tan told me that if Berniecrats thought doxxing could silence him, they couldn’t be more wrong. As an immigrant, Tan has met many adversities in life.
Immigrant Warns of Dumbing Down
Tan’s family immigrated from Southeast Asia to Canada and then to the United States. In conversation with me and on Twitter, Tan shared that he grew up poor. His dad “was often out of work struggling with alcoholism,” and his mother “worked the night shift at the convalescent home.”
Tan remembered that growing up, “Dinner sometimes was expired bread from the nursing home dipped in milk.” Tan also wrote on Twitter, “At age 14, I cold-called the yellow pages to get my first web dev job so our family could put a down payment on a first home.”
Like so many immigrants, Tan found his way out of poverty through education and hard work. He took Advanced Placement math classes at the city’s public school and studied hard. Today, he’s the co-founder of the San Francisco-based venture capital firm Initialized Capital, with more than $700 million assets under management.
While he consistently voted for Democrats, Tan wasn’t politically active until this recall campaign. He shares many grievances other parents have. In addition, he is deeply concerned about the school board’s attempt to gut AP classes and dumb down math education in the K-12 system. He warned his fellow Californians, “If you don’t take action now, an entire Californian generation of STEM researchers, scientists, and engineers, will have never existed.”
Berniecrats’ Campaign of Intimidation
Tan said the school board’s approach to education is not acceptable and the Berniecrats’ intimidation wouldn’t silence him. It turns out that Tan wasn’t the only one the Berniecrats tried to either bully or intimidate.
The doxxing of Tan’s home address came merely two days after Marckmann threatened a San Francisco-based journalist, Jill Tucker, who is working on a story about masking kids. Many parents and supporters of the recall also have disclosed that they have been bullied or threatened by Marckmann and other Berniecrats (see here, here, and here.)
The San Francisco school board recall boils down to voters of diverse backgrounds expressing their rejection of radical, ideology-driven policies and the lack of decency of the far-left faction of the Democrat Party. We’ve seen similar voters’ dissatisfaction in other parts of the country, which may cost the Democrats control of the U.S. Congress in November.
SF Berniecrats’ dirty tactics have given us a preview of how the far left often fights back. American voters should embrace themselves for an ugly election cycle ahead.