decryption | Is California drifting to the right?

(New York) California has long been credited with being something of a laboratory for what will happen in the rest of the United States. If that’s still the case, American progressives should be alarmed by the results of the polls held in San Francisco and Los Angeles last Tuesday.

Posted at 6:00 am

Richard Hetu

Richard Hetu
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In San Francisco, a stronghold of the left, 60% of voters voted in a referendum to unseat progressive city law enforcement attorney Chesa Boudin, which allowed them to air their fed-up with crime and homelessness.

In Los Angeles, another progressive hotspot, Rick Caruso, a billionaire real estate developer and former Republican, won more votes than Democratic Representative Karen Bass in the city’s first round of mayoral elections. The main themes of his campaign? crime and homelessness.

Photo Alex Gallardo, ARCHIVE Associated Press

Rick Caruso, billionaire candidate for Los Angeles mayor, received the most votes in the first round, held on June 7th. In November he meets another Democratic candidate, Karen Bass.

The national press did not fail to see a message for Democrats in these rulings five months before the midterm election.

“California voters on Tuesday sharply warned the Democratic Party about the power of law and order as the political message in 2022,” he said New York Times.

But Lara Bazelon, a law professor at the University of San Francisco, also saw the power of money in her city’s election verdict.

“A huge amount of money was spent to indict Boudin, mostly by wealthy tech elites and Republican financiers,” she said in an interview.

Fernando Guerra, a political scientist at Loyola Marymount University, heard the same story from Los Angeles.

“Caruso took $40 million out of his bank account to market himself to voters and take advantage of the problem of homelessness and the perception of rising crime,” he said in an interview.

“Visual” crimes

According to him, this “perception” is partly related to the ubiquity of surveillance cameras. In particular, these cameras provide the media with spectacular images of robberies of people leaving fancy restaurants or burglaries in luxury stores.

“We have images of crimes that we didn’t have before. It’s very visual, said Fernando Guerra. Furthermore, this crime takes place in areas of the city where wealthy people live, unlike in the 1980s or 1990s when crime, which was a much more serious problem than it is today, was concentrated in Latino neighborhoods and African Americans. »

“But rich people tend to vote more and resent more when their quality of life is affected,” added the man, who is also director of the Center for Los Angeles Studies at Loyola Marymount University.

In San Francisco, the misery of fentanyl addicts and the homeless sit alongside the wealth of tech companies whose headquarters swarm downtown.

Chesa Boudin, 41, elected in November 2019, was part of a group of left-leaning prosecutors who promised criminal justice reform in several US cities during Donald Trump’s presidency. The son of far-left activists who were sentenced to long prison terms, he notably refused to send petty drug addicts to jail, reduced the prison population, and set a precedent in San Francisco by charging a police officer with manslaughter.

His critics have portrayed him as a prosecutor willing to sacrifice public safety on the altar of his progressive dogmas while tying his reforms to a high-profile crime wave.

Asian Americans are fighting back

Many of these crimes were directed against members of San Francisco’s Asian American community, who overwhelmingly voted to impeach Chesa Boudin.

“Asian Americans are part of the progressive coalition that governs San Francisco. They are as important there as Latinos are in Los Angeles,” commented Loyola Marymount University political scientist Fernando Guerra. “Boudin lost the referendum because of the city’s problems, but also because Asian Americans left the coalition. »

After the referendum, impeachment campaign leader Chesa Boudin asserted that her side had not abandoned San Francisco’s progressive ideals.

“This election does not mean that San Francisco has veered far to the right in its approach to criminal justice,” said Mary Jung. Indeed, San Francisco has been a national beacon for progressive criminal justice reform for decades, and will continue to see new leadership. »

In Los Angeles, the second round of the mayoral election will take place on November 8th, the date of the midterm elections. We will then see if this city, like the rest of California and the United States, will have drifted to the right.

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