I suspect that most of my regular readers expected an article on Afghanistan today since it was the political story that received the most coverage last week. Joe Biden’s delivery of a “Hellfire suppository” to a terrorist notwithstanding, I feel that, particularly politically, Afghanistan is a T/B/D story and will therefore pass for today.
This summer the most dangerous domestic political story has been the right wing’s attack on democracy. Today I’d like to discuss one aspect of it.
On September 14th the voters of California will determine the fate of Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom via a recall election in one of the most undemocratic processes ever devised.
California has a recall provision that is basically a one stop, if-then process. The ballot will have two questions. The first is if Newsom should remain in office. He needs 50%+1 to remain. The second question is on the assumption that Newsome does not receive the necessary votes to remain in office who do you want to replace him. There are 46 contenders. The number alone all but guarantees that should phase two be applicable the winner will receive far from majority support.
Current polling shows the first question to be too close to call. It is reasonable to assume that if Newsom fails to hit the mark, he will still garner somewhere in the area of 49% support. The current leader among the 46 is Larry Elder (more about him later) who appears to have about 20% support. A possible outcome is that 20% of the voters could defeat 49% of the voters? How is that democratic?
Like any governor Newsom was not perfect. Earlier in the pandemic he pulled a stunt that was foolish, arrogant, irresponsible; you pick the adjective(s) that you feel best apply. That was wrong but certainly doesn’t warrant recall. That is why we have terms and reelections in America.
California recalled Democratic Governor Gray Davis in 2003 using this same process and the result was the totally unqualified and national laughingstock Arnold Schwarzenegger. He was great for the joke writers but not much else.
Before I go on let’s explore how a recall effort gets to a ballot in California in the first place. A petition with signatures equal to 12% of the vote total in the last statewide election must be collected. (Note: that is votes cast; not eligible voters or population.) While that is far from a light task it is doable and certainly does not represent the feelings of the electorate at large. In fact, with history as a teacher, all it takes is a financial backer. In 2003 the backer was now Republican Representative Darrell Issa. Would you buy a used car from Issa? I wouldn’t!
If polling is to be believed we find ourselves in a binary choice situation. If Newsome is ousted Elder will be governor. Elder is a far right wing media personality. He is anti-mask and anti-vaccine. Just what we don’t need in a pandemic. He is also opposes any minimum wage and a woman’s right to choose. In 2008 he called climate change, “A crock.” He maintains that women tend to vote Democratic because they simply aren’t as well politically informed as men. I could go on but I think you get my basic point that he certainly doesn’t represent mainstream California thinking and values.
Is this process democratic? No! Does Newsom deserve to be recalled? No! Does this illustrate the importance of voter turnout? Yes! If you live in California please vote! Don’t allow the forces of evil a victory by exploiting a loophole.
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