Reject the recall

If California doesn’t wake up, Gavin Newsom’s recall could be a detrimental backtrack from the progress we have made


Photo via Creative Commons

Gavin Newsom’s recall is a petty, immature excuse for democracy. The recall offers no actual benefit for California but opens up the possibility for a host of Trump 2.0s with very little support to have a genuine chance at becoming our next governor. 

Now, the recall rules are tricky. The ballot has two questions: Do you want to recall Gavin Newsom? And, if the governor is recalled, who do you want to replace him? So, if a majority of people answer yes to the first question, whoever has the most votes out of the 46 other candidates becomes governor. This means that even if 49 percent of people vote to keep Newsom as the governor, a new governor would be instituted that only needs 15-18 percent of the vote, according to The Washington Post

While this is constitutional, it seems far from democratic; there’s something pretty counterintuitive and backward about removing a governor from office for a candidate with actually a lot fewer votes. I can understand why some people are frustrated with Newsom, but his approach to handling the pandemic was largely successful.

Newsom’s vaccine rollout was efficient, his mask mandates were necessary, and his careful reopening of schools was on track with the opinions of public health experts. 

Was online school annoying? Yes. Was watching Newsom’s kids go to in-person private school annoying? Yes. Was watching him dine out after telling us we shouldn’t be annoying? Yes. But, that doesn’t mean his pandemic policies didn’t save numerous lives; any bout of out-of-touch hypocrisy doesn’t take that simple truth away. 

Newsom has a strong record of bold, progressive action. He’s made steps towards abolishing the death penalty and has been pretty responsive to the Black Lives Matter movement. During the pandemic, he proposed the largest state-wide economic stimulus ever, expanded housing, rent-relief, and anti-poverty programs, and authorized free school meals for all. He’s made significant strides in climate policy (investing toward the end of fossil fuels) and healthcare policy (boosting Obamacare subsidies and expanding Medi-care for undocumented residents).

With a net worth of 20 million dollars and a history of working his way around his own pandemic rules, I understand how many find him to be out-of-touch with reality, but his liberal policies have pushed California forwards.

However, his opponents’ platforms jeopardize the work Newsom has done.

As if we haven’t had enough of public figures dabbling in politics, conservative radio host Larry Elder is the leading opposing candidate. Elder denies the existence of systemic racism, opposes gun control, is anti-abortion, wants to abolish the minimum wage, thinks it’s acceptable for employers to ask women if they plan to have children before hiring them and still uses the term “illegal aliens” to refer to undocumented immigrants. He also says, if elected, he plans to reverse the statewide mask mandates and the requirement that teachers, school staff, healthcare workers and state employees either get vaccinated or get tested weekly (because God forbid we keep our schools and hospitals safe). His ex-fiance has also accused him of verbal and emotional abuse, according to the Los Angeles Times. 

Another lovely candidate, John Cox, a businessman who travels on his campaign with a live bear, denies the seriousness of Covid-19, is against cutting out fossil fuels and rejects homeless housing initiatives. Candidate Kevin Faulconer, a former San Diego mayor, has come forward with few policy proposals but welcomes endorsements from a host of Republican lawmakers. Kevin Paffrath, a self-proclaimed “centrist” candidate who doubles as a finance Youtuber, was arrested in 2019 after dressing up as an elf for a Youtube prank. Lastly, we have Caitlyn Jenner, a former reality TV star who, while increasing trans visibility, has zero experience in politics and seems to care more about celebrity than equality. 

Any of these candidates would be a backtrack from the progress Newsom’s administration has made. The middle of a raging pandemic is the last time where we should be focused on choosing a new governor, especially when all of the other options are more concerned with popularity than public health.

Additionally, contesting the governor would only kickstart a relentless cycle of recalls. The same way some Republicans have begun to chant “impeach” anytime Joe Biden breathes the wrong way, Democrats will almost certainly try to recall any conservative governor. Abusing the recall process is only going to lead to greater misuse. 

There’s no question as to whether Republicans will rally to the polls. Now, it’s up to the Democrats who dominate this state but can’t be bothered to vote to ensure that we protect ourselves: the election of a Trump 2.0 is incredibly preventable. 

Even if you can’t vote, it’s up to us all to make sure our eligible friends and family do. Healthcare equity, the state of the pandemic, the future of climate change, anti-racism, the homelessness crisis, gun safety, abortion rights, immigration equity, and California’s soul and reputation are on the line. 

Newsom’s loss would be California’s greatest failure in a very long time. I’m begging you to take this seriously.