For those out of the loop, there is a uniquely California event taking place tomorrow, September 14. It comes in the form of the fourth-ever gubernatorial recall election in our country's history. This latest and greatest American political shitshow is made possible by an archaic system fueled by our current political climate. The Republican minority, who as we know are barely holding on to the edge of the cliff of relevance, are once again demonstrating they will do anything to maintain power.
I've lived in San Francisco for over a quarter-century. I remember Newsom's stint as mayor—the good (legalizing gay marriage) and the bad (an affair with his close friend and campaign manager's wife). One thing I can confidently say about our now governor is that he takes his job of serving and protecting people seriously. California has never been and never will be an easy state to govern. A pandemic, a drought and endless wildfires has certainly not made the last few years any easier. And Newsom, in my opinion, has done a fine job navigating through all of it.
The leading candidate to replace him, who would do so with a small plurality of the votes, is a man named Larry Elder. He is a conservative talk show host who, for starters, doesn't believe in mask mandates, minimum wage, nor climate change. As a bonus, he is in favor of turning over Roe v Wade. It seems unfathomable that Elder, who seems more suited to be a frontrunner in, let's say, Texas or Florida, could win a state that Joe Biden carried by 29 points. But given how the recall process works here in the wondrous, beautiful, and fucked up state of California, Elder could become our next Governor simply by taking in 20 per cent of the votes.
The potential fallout from the recall is not simply a "me problem" for Californians, it's an "us problem" as a nation. To illustrate: If Senator Diane Feinstein, who is 88 years old, were to die while a Republican Governor is in place, then a Republican Senator will be appointed. This would tip the chamber back to Mitch McConnell. This is not to say we should be duly impressed with what has been accomplished by Democrats thus far, but we have seen what happens when McConnell is at the helm.
The good news is that recent polls and early mail-in ballots paint a much more positive picture for Newsom than we were seeing just a couple weeks ago. But we are not out of the woods yet and as we have painfully learned in the past, it is safe to assume that the right—mad, misled, and motivated—will show up tomorrow. And it is vital that Democrats turn out as well.
If you truly feel that Newsom has hurt this state since he took office in 2019 and that there is a better person to run California, I am not trying to convince you otherwise. But I do ask that you pay democracy the respect it deserves by letting Newsom finish out his term. Then by all means, you can vote him out the old-fashioned way during next November's regularly-scheduled gubernatorial election.
All California voters should have received a ballot in the mail. If you are voting by mail, the ballot must not be postmarked later than September 14. You can also use a ballot drop box or return it to a polling location. In person voting options are also available. You can find your polling place here.