On Tuesday, San Francisco’s largely liberal residents successfully recalled their woke district attorney, Chesa Boudin. The majority of San Franciscans held Boudin accountable for the city’s skyrocketing crimes and the deterioration of the quality of life. The recall’s success has significant implications for San Francisco and the rest of the country.
1. Wokeness Gone Too Far, Even For Democrat Voters
Since elected San Francisco’s DA in November 2019, Boudin has become the standard-bearer of the so-called progressive prosecution movement, which includes Los Angeles County DA George Gascón (he previously served as San Francisco’s DA), Chicago Cook County DA Kim Foxx, Philadelphia DA Larry Krasner, and Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg.
These progressive prosecutors implemented radial policies in the name of criminal justice reform, including under-prosecuting or not prosecuting some criminals, not trying juveniles who committed violent crimes as adults and eliminating cash bailouts. They have prioritized the needs and welfare of the criminals over that of the victims and the wider society. Consequently, crime rates in these cities have spiked, and perpetrators with long criminal histories continue to roam around cities and terrorize residents and businesses freely.
Take San Francisco as an example. The city today has one of the highest crime rates in America, and it is more dangerous than 97 percent of the communities in California. During the last Christmas shopping season, the open smash-and-grab robberies of luxury stores in downtown San Francisco shocked the nation.
Many San Franciscans reached a breaking point when Troy McAlister, who has a 25-year criminal history, hit and killed two women in the city on New Year’s Eve. Outraged, San Franciscans believed these women would have lived had Boudin sent McAlister to jail rather than let him go on parole in March 2020.
Besides rising crime rates, people are concerned about the city’s widespread drug problem. There were 621 drug overdose deaths last year, more than the city’s covid-19 death toll. Yet, San Francisco Standard reported that Boudin had convicted no one for dealing the deadly opioid in 2021. Instead, he secured “just three convictions for ‘possession with intent to sell’ drugs: two for methamphetamine and one for a case including heroin and cocaine.” Since many drug dealers in San Francisco are foreign nationals, Boudin chose not to prosecute so they wouldn’t have to face deportation.
The low conviction rate of drug dealing and other lenient policies implemented by the city’s Democrat leadership have attracted drug users and drug dealers from all over the country to San Francisco. The city has more drug users than high school students. Residents do not feel safe walking downtown because there are used needles everywhere and open drug dealing for all to see. The drug problem has also worsened other issues in the city, i.e., the increase in the homeless population.
Boudin’s recall signals that his soft-on-crime policies have gone too far even for most Democrat voters. Kit Lam, a volunteer for the recall campaign, said the victory of the recall showed that “Extremism has no place in San Francisco.” One recall supporter named Garry Tan told me that voters expect elected officials “to faithfully perform the very basic functions of their offices. This public duty should always trump ideological crusades and personal political agendas.”
Boudin’s recall put progressive prosecutors who have implemented similar policies on notice. An effort to recall Los Angeles DA George Gascon is already underway because many Los Angeles voters blamed Gason for rising crime rates in their city. If other progressive prosecutors don’t abandon their radical policies, they may have to face similar voter revolts in their cities and lose their jobs as Boudin did.
2. The Democrat Party’s Establishment Is Out of Touch
Boudin’s supporters blamed Republicans for organizing and funding the recall campaign, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Even the New York Times concluded that Boudin’s recall revealed that “Democrats are at war with themselves.” It was a war between grassroots and establishment within the Democrat Party.
It was moderate Democrats who led a grassroots effort to recall Boudin. Although the campaign reportedly received some significant contributions from Republican donors, it said that over 80 percent of donations come from local San Franciscans. The majority of donors are either registered Democrats or have no party affiliations.
But the city’s Democrat Party establishment chose to stand by Boudin, even though multiple polls showed that most San Franciscans supported Boudin’s recall. He had the endorsements of the San Francisco Democrat Party, the editorial board of The San Francisco Chronicle, most of the city’s current and former leaders and lawmakers, many major unions, and celebrities. But these endorsements fell short of persuading voters.
Frank Ma, a former law enforcement official, pronounced that the establishment failed to realize that voters are tired of seeing “crimes happen in front of them and either nothing happening or the person who did the crime be back out within days.” Therefore, they ignored the establishment’s endorsement and soundbites and voted based on what they saw and experienced.
There is a similar disconnect between average Democrat voters and the Party establishment on the national level. While the Biden administration, Congressional Democrats, and their media allies continue to push policies on climate change, racial justice, and gender issues, most voters (including many registered Democrats) in key congressional battleground states consider inflation and crime to be the most critical issues. They believe the Democrat establishment “is out of touch with everyday people and are condescending toward voters.”
If the Democrat establishment refuses to listen to voters and reverse its harmful policies, the recall of Boudin is only the beginning of election defeats the party is likely to face this year.
3. Neither Party Can Afford to Ignore Asian American Voters
Since Asian Americans traditionally have been solid supporters of the Democrat candidates, the Democrat Party has taken their votes for granted, and the Republican Party hasn’t bothered to win them over.
But in recent years, Asian Americans have been at the forefront of opposing some of the Democrats’ extreme policies. In Washington State, Asian Americans helped defeat a 2019 ballot initiative that sought to allow “characteristics such as race, sex, color, ethnicity, national origin, age” as factors when considering candidates for educational or employment opportunities. In California, Asian Americans helped defeat a similar ballot initiative in 2020.
This year San Francisco’s Asian voters were the driving force behind the two successful campaigns that first recalled three leftist school board members and now the city’s woke DA. The Democrat Party shouldn’t take Asian American voters for granted. If Asian Americans continue to feel harmed by the left’s extreme policies, the Democrat Party will see an exodus of Asian voters this November.
Meanwhile, Asian Americans’ successful political campaigns have demonstrated that issues than party loyalty drive them. There is an opportunity for the Republican Party to make inroads into the Asian community with the right policy ideas and dedicated outreach efforts.