The People – 1; The Woke - 0

It’s democracy in action.  Tuesday’s fairly sparse electoral results give more support to what many have been saying for over a year – progressive extremism does Democrats no favors.  The real acid test of course will come in November, and few can guess what crises will ensue in the meantime and what their electoral impact may be.  But, as it looks now, the progressive wing is driving the Democratic Party into minority status.

In San Francisco, the recall election of progressive District Attorney Chesa Boudin ousted him by a 60%-40% vote.  In what’s possibly the least believable excuse for his landslide loss, Boudin blamed “right-wing billionaires.”  Yes, the guy who took the money of left-wing billionaire George Soros is playing that card.  Amazing, but true.  More amazing is that voters who identify as Democrats by a 10-1 margin over Republicans are the ones who removed him from office.  Those are the same voters who, just last February, ousted three school board members for their woke ideology.  Did Boudin learn the obvious lesson?  He didn’t in February and apparently didn’t on Tuesday either. 

Boudin presided over an office that openly refused to prosecute essentially all low-level crimes including the theft of property up to the value of $950, influencing major retailers like CVS Pharmacy to close up shop at 11 locations in the city.  The horror that is a once-beautiful city now beset with public drug use, sprawling tent cities, assault, sexual assault, public defecation and the like is plainly visible to most people, but not ideologues like Boudin who construct their woke narratives and then move into them to stay.

In Los Angeles, former Republican Rick Caruso outpolled progressive Rep. Karen Bass in the primary race for mayor.  Just a few weeks ago, Bass was considered a shoo-in to win, but, in Tuesday’s election, trailed Caruso by five points, 42%-37%.  Caruso is a real estate developer who campaigned mostly on the issues of crime and quality of life.

Less publicized have been school board races across the country.  Ballotpedia, that tracks such elections has some very interesting data. 

First, incumbents are losing their re-election efforts at almost twice the average of the previous three years.  About one-third of incumbents lost compared with an average of 18% previously.  That’s likely because policies adopted by school boards during COVID lockdowns and the free time generated by them meant parents were able to pay more attention to what boards were up to and were appalled by what they saw.  When incumbents lose, change is in the air.

Recall elections have also spiked.  Last year’s total of 126 such elections tracked by Ballotpedia was about 4.5 times the previous year’s total.  Not all those elections succeed of course, but 77 of them did and the very fact of such a sharp increase in the number of efforts says a lot.  We the People at the local level are none too pleased with the drift of politics as it relates to children and their education.

The response to woke education politics is harder to ascertain.  According to the Wall Street Journal,

Candidates who opposed woke instruction or Covid policies such as the shutdowns or mask mandates won 36% of the 334 seats in these districts. Those with unclear positions won 19%, Ballotpedia says. Candidates taking a more progressive stance won 45%.

It’s impossible to draw any hard conclusions from those numbers.  How many of those more progressive candidates were incumbents receiving the enormous benefits at the ballot box that incumbency confers?  We don’t know.  And what other factors played key parts in the outcomes of those elections?  Woke/non-woke issues are just some of many, so we can’t conclude much.  Still the very fact that wokeness was placed before voters as an issue encourages the belief that candidates think opposition to it can be a winning issue. 

Obviously, we’ll learn much more this November.

This happens every so often.  Extremists on the Right or Left get enthralled with their rhetoric and convince themselves of their own virtue and overall correctness.  That train eventually collides with the one driven by voters with disastrous results for the extremists.  And so it seems this year.  Pew Research routinely brings us information on what voters really think and value and it’s essentially never what extremists believe they should.  Everyday people reliably constitute a corrective to those extremes, like a large body of water that moderates temperatures. 

You’d think extremists would learn, but they never seem to.

Still, they do serve one function that’s not entirely self-destructive.  Extremists, regardless of ideology, tend to alter the terms of discussions on their issues.  They may take a shellacking at the ballot box, but, once the dust settles, we often find people thinking differently about issues than they used to.  I suspect woke ideology will tend to have that long-term effect.  Extremists shout; voters issue their corrective; the needle moves incrementally; rinse, repeat.

When it comes to wokeness, we need to pay attention to how conversations on issues like race, sex and sexual “transitioning” continue, what the language is, what comes to be taken as true and what’s not.  So far, wokeness is a phenomenon of elites and the organizations and businesses they run.  The pushback against it is well under way, but the only “end game” is the continuing fight. 


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