The San Francisco recall is the left's 3rd strike

A donkey kick.
(Image credit: Illustrated | iStock)

There's a joke among journalists that one example is an anecdote, two are a trend, and three are a story. By that standard, the recall of three San Francisco school board members last night is not an isolated incident. After the unsuccessful referendum to replace the Minneapolis police department and the election of Glenn Youngkin as governor of Virginia, a pattern is becoming clear. Voters do not like the combination of administrative incompetence, ideological enthusiasm, and political indifference that characterizes the left-wing of the Democratic Party.

Each situation has local particularities. In broad strokes, though, they have much in common. In each case, voters rejected challenges to respected if imperfect local institutions: selective schools in San Francisco and Virginia, the police department in Minneapolis. In each, they blamed progressives for emphasizing anti-racist symbolism at the expense of basic services. Officials and candidates in all three situations, finally, alienated all but their most devoted allies by dismissing all criticism as intolerance, racism, or even terrorism. In San Francisco, where Board of Supervisors President Shamann Walton (who was not on the ballot) described the recall as driven by "closet Republicans and most certainly folks with conservative values in San Francisco, even if they weren't registered Republicans."

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Samuel Goldman

Samuel Goldman is a national correspondent at He is also an associate professor of political science at George Washington University, where he is executive director of the John L. Loeb, Jr. Institute for Religious Freedom and director of the Politics & Values Program. He received his Ph.D. from Harvard and was a postdoctoral fellow in Religion, Ethics, & Politics at Princeton University. His books include God's Country: Christian Zionism in America (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2018) and After Nationalism (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2021). In addition to academic research, Goldman's writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and many other publications.