The election for the recall of Gov. Gavin Newsom was a tense moment for Californians. Republican Larry Elder had an overwhelming lead in the race for the empty spot if the governor had been recalled. However, much to the relief of many California Democrats, the polls closed with a resounding “no” from many counties throughout the state. While it seems as though the state can dust its hands of this ordeal, there is actually quite a bit that can be learned from the recall and how it was carried out. From the hefty price tag to the people who were vying for Newsom’s place, the recall’s failure is now a chance to analyze how politics are carried out.
The elephant in the room that most people are quick to point out following the recall was the immense cost to run it. Though getting the millions of signatures was free, the resulting price tag for running the recall is leaving some taxpayers angry. However, while it may be tempting to point the finger and say that those behind the Recall Newsom petition should foot the bill, as disappointing as it may be, this should not be the reality. The recall process is important to keep around, should there be a need to recall someone unfit to be in the position. Though hypothetically, if Democrats feel the need to recall a governor in the future, regardless of if they win or lose, they wouldn’t want to be the ones pinned with the price of the recall. It would be unfair to say that whoever runs the recall is responsible for paying it back. Additionally, to make those who supported the recall pay the fee might alienate people from ever wanting to run a recall again, feeling that they might be punished. Thus, the discussion of who deserves to face the cost should not be the priority.
What should be front and center is a dissection of the things that went on during the recall election, and more importantly, who was on the ballot as a replacement governor. California has a history of celebrities running for political office, but this year featured people such as former Olympian Caitlyn Jenner and Los Angeles model Angelyne, neither of whom have any prior political experience — a common trait in celebrity candidates. There was even a real estate YouTuber who threw his hat into the ring as a Democratic replacement for Newsom. Celebrities on the ballot have fame to back their names rather than genuine political experience. Because of this and how frequently this occurs, it is necessary to implement requirements to get on the roster. Limiting the ballot to those with political experience might cut out people who have not been able to afford specialized education in the field of politics, which is something that should in fact be avoided. Reforming the recall process should not include closing it off to those who don’t have a master’s degree in political science to back their ideas. What a reform should block is celebrities with name recognition from obscuring those who have experience necessary to run a state government. The public deserves to see people on the ballot who will know how to manage the state, not someone who is running simply to boost their followers on social media.
The recall also showed yet again that the state contains more Republicans than many realize. Some people feel like their votes may not even matter because the state “will always bleed blue.” The support that Republican Candidate Larry Elder received should make it abundantly clear that California simply isn’t bleeding blue at every corner. Even maps of which counties voted “no” versus “yes” on the recall reveal that certain counties contain more Republicans than Democrats. Democrats have gotten lazy in promoting their goals and should become much more vigilant about their cause if they want to keep seeing their progressive candidates in office. Republicans are very good at getting their messages out there and rallying supporters; Democrats need to do the same.
The recall election was so much more than just the failure to remove Newsom from office. It put a magnifying glass to political issues in California that cannot be ignored any longer. Recall ballots requirements need to be tightened, and Democrats need to get a move on, especially as the next gubernatorial election is dawning in a year’s time. The cost of the recall should be the least of our worries when we have these holes in our politics that could be so easily exploited that they necessitate the recall of a far more incompetent governor in our future.