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Tech’s Looming Radical Chic Throwdown

Chesa Boudin
Photo By Yalonda James via Getty Images
Theodore Schleifer
December 14, 2021

Last January, I fired up my AirPods to eavesdrop on a Clubhouse thrashing of Chesa Boudin, the 41-year-old, bleeding heart District Attorney of San Francisco, and the son of the infamous Weather Underground radicals Kathy Boudin and David Gilbert. In those lonely, divisive days of the pandemic, one of the few ways that Silicon Valley could find companionship was bonding over how Chesa—who had achieved first-name only status like Sheryl or Elon—was absolutely not crushing it. 

Chesa, partly raised by his surrogate father Bill Ayers while his parents were incarcerated for an armed robbery gone awry, took the more establishment path to political power. Educated at Yale and Oxford, Boudin clerked on the U.S. Court of Appeals before becoming a public defender. Elected in 2019, he immediately became one of America’s most controversial prosecutors, deemphasizing placing non-violent criminals on trial. Chesa had struck a nerve in the city, a first-world utopia wrestling with social disorder, at a time of growing bipartisan outrage over mass incarceration, with a mandate to try something new.