California, birthplace of the recall vote, proves yet again that just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.
If recent polling is to be believed, the winner of this September 14 election to recall Governor Gavin Newsom could well be the right-wing radio personality and ardent anti-masker Larry Elder, a man totally unqualified to run California.
To state the obvious, this year’s recall effort — so flamboyantly ill-conceived — beggars any pretense at self-preservation and common sense. We urge all voters — regardless of party affiliation or ideological inclinations — to vote no.
The only reason California faces such a fate is that a group of fringe Republican malcontents, upset that Governor Newsom has done what he said he would do when he ran for office four years ago, were able to raise enough money and garner enough signatures to qualify for this special election, which is estimated to be costing taxpayers at least $276 million.
Even if you find Gavin Newsom’s positions objectionable, his term expires in little more than a year. Presumably in the intervening time, the Republicans might find someone with a modicum of competence to run against Newsom then. But not now.
To be clear, this election is not whether you like Newsom or not. He might not be the sort of guy you’d want to sit down with to have a beer with — or more precisely, to sit down at a fancy French restaurant to enjoy a $500-a-plate birthday dinner celebrating the state’s über lobbyist, as Newsom did earlier in the pandemic.
That, most certainly, was foolish.
But it’s also not grounds for impeachment. Or recall.
To the extent Newsom deserves blame for mistakes undeniably made, he also deserves credit for the successes for which we’ve all sacrificed so hard. The stakes involved could not be higher. We are urging our voters to vote emphatically no on the recall. It’s not about saving Newsom’s bacon; it’s about saving your own.
Polls have been wrong, and winds do change. But as it stands now, Elder — a contrarian and energetic provocateur — is reportedly way ahead of all the other 45 candidates now running to replace Newsom.
It’s worth noting at this historical moment, Elder has never held elective office during his 69 years on planet Earth and that he’s pledged to repeal all the mask and vaccination requirements that Governor Newsom has approved. As a Black man, Elder has carved out a successful career as a multimedia pundit trivializing, minimizing, and denying the consequences of racism.
Just what we don’t need: a gratuitously self-destructive incompetent at the helm of the fifth largest economy on the planet as the worst public health crisis in the past two centuries goes into overdrive.
Even those voters who dislike or disapprove of Newsom’s policies should nevertheless be concerned that the man most likely to become governor should they vote for recall will be Elder, whose ex-fiancée accused him of pulling out a revolver in the middle of a heated domestic dispute to ensure that it was loaded.
Elder declined — in his words — to dignify such accusations with a response. Unfortunately, he’s also refused to dignify with a response questions posed by any reporter other than a few representing a Chinese news agency. When it comes to essential details — like how he’d handle the COVID crisis — the voters deserve less dignity and more information.
Governor Newsom, on the other hand, has proved to be uncommonly effective navigating a host of natural and unnatural disasters.
Has he been perfect?
Absolutely not. But in his brief tenure, Newsom has been forced to deal with droughts of geologic scale, infernos that rival anything in the Old Testament, and, of course, most immediately debilitating, COVID-19. And until this year, Newsom had no federal partner upon whom it was safe for Californians to rely.
No, we are not remotely out of the woods. But look at states such as Texas, Florida, and Alabama — all led by such stridently anti-masking governors that their school districts have been forced to rise up in revolt to impose the most rudimentary of safety precautions. Consequently, their hospitals are overflowing with COVID patients, their ICUs engorged with bodies of people who can’t breathe without the aid of a machine.
In California, our hospitals have been greatly strained and our health-care workers maxed out. But they are still standing, still caring for our sick.
Although registered Democrats outnumber Republicans by a 2-to-1 margin in the state and no Republican has won a statewide office since 2006, the smart money is betting that Newsom could still lose because of what the pollsters refer to as “the enthusiasm gap” and voter fatigue.
Are Democrats and Independent voters really so tired of voting they can’t mail in their ballots? We hope not.
By now, any registered voter reading this should have received a large envelope courtesy of the Santa Barbara County Elections Department. In it is enclosed the recall ballot. It asks two questions. The first is whether you support the recall. Fill in the No box.
The second question on the ballot asks which of the 46 contenders you would select to replace Governor Newsom should he be recalled. As a matter of tactics, strategy, and above all simplicity, we urge you to keep the second line blank.
If this sounds like a singularly undemocratic process, you are correct.
If more voters cast ballots against Newsom than for him, the candidate with the most votes of the 46 in the running will become our next governor. In such scenario, Newsom will all but certainly have slightly less than half the total votes cast. But the next governor — having had to split votes with 45 other candidates — will have won with far fewer votes than Newsom.
Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.
Vote No on the Recall. And be sure to vote. Register at registertovote.ca.gov by August 30.