For the September 14 2021 California Gubernatorial Recall Election, here is how I plan to vote.
Question 1: Yes on Recall
Question 2: Joel Ventresca for Replacement Candidate
I have opposed Gavin Newsom for his entire political career, ever since I first learned who he was, when he was running for Mayor of San Francisco all the way back in 2003. At that time he was the slick, pro-business, Care Not Cash, “sensible” moderate establishment-groomed-and-backed Democrat, who needed Democratic big names like Bill Clinton and Nancy Pelosi to come in and campaign for him, to save him from a humiliating defeat at the hands of Green candidate Matt Gonzalez (my choice in that race).
Fast forward 18 years, and he’s the slick, pro-business, crumbs for the people and French Laundry for the wealthy donors, “sensible” moderate establishment-groomed-and-backed Democrat, who needs Democratic big names like Barack Obama and Joe Biden to come in and campaign for him, to save him from a humiliating defeat at the hands of Yes on Recall (my choice in this race). You know the saying: the more things change, the more they stay the same.
I’ve never wanted to help Newsom at any point in his career. The two times I had a chance to vote for him, to even the relatively innocuous post of Lieutenant Governor, I said “nahhh” and voted for “None of the Above” (as a write-in) in the primary and Peace and Freedom candidate C.T. Weber in the general instead. And now I have a chance to help end his career? Why would I not vote Yes on that?
Why do I want Newsom gone from political life? He’s the archetype of the Democratic elite figurehead: a status quo maintainer who cares more about helping those who already have wealth and power than transforming the system to ensure everyone else has a chance at controlling their economic and political destiny. He’s been this his entire career: supporting Care Not Cash to constrain the homeless, supporting big developers over small businesses, making sure nothing threatens the precious power structure the wealthy elite have built up for themselves. In terms of keeping Newsom as Governor, it’s not like he’s been doing great things with that office anyway. He’s been blocking much needed policy goals himself, like ranked choice voting and single-payer health insurance. As far as COVID-19 policy, I’m more of a moderate when it comes to mask and vaccine mandates and lockdowns. I don’t agree with how far Newsom has taken things, especially when it comes to how his lockdowns favored – once again – the powerful elites like the film and television industry over small business owners. And of course, let’s not forget his morally bankrupt ideology of market-driven government he outlined in his book Citizenville, like wanting to cure diseases by offering large monetary rewards. <cue eye roll> That tells me everything I need to know about how he views the role of government in society, and it’s really bad.
And yes, I’m getting annoyed by how the entire Left is defending Newsom. This includes, sadly, Bernie Sanders, who is reduced to appearing in ads pleading for voters to save a neoliberal corporatist tool who’s everything Sanders has fought against. Though a few of Newsom’s defenders are gamely trying to argue in favor of Newsom’s COVID-19 policies, most are just doing Lesser Evilism again, once again propping up a Scary Republican Bogeyman to cattle prod us into voting for the unappealing Democrat.
The lesser of two evils argument falls laughably flat for this election. I’m not terribly concerned about who might replace Newsom. Veto-proof Democratic supermajorities in the state legislature will keep a check on how much damage any Republican governor could do (and indeed, could even still pass legislation without their consent!). We’re having another gubernatorial election next year anyway. Whoever replaces Newsom could be gone in 16 months. Who knows, maybe getting rid of Newsom this year will pave the way for some progressive to run and win next year, whereas they wouldn’t have a chance if Newsom was still there and running for reelection. (But this is still California, where progressives go to be assimilated by the Big Money Democratic Machine, so good luck.)
The most laughable argument I’ve seen going around is that we can’t let a Republican become governor because then if California’s elderly and senile Senator Dianne Feinstein dies, the Republican governor will appoint a Republican replacement, who in turn will turn the Senate over to Republican control. I see that and think: wow how many logical rings of fire do you have to jump through to buy that argument? This argument strikes me very much as one that Democratic politicians came up with for regular citizens to repeat on social media as an argument against the recall, rather than one they actually believe in themselves. How do I know? Because if they were REALLY so concerned about this possibility, they would’ve pressured Feinstein to resign now and then Newsom could appoint a nice young Democratic neoliberal to take her place and carry on her pathetic legacy for another 30 years. But they haven’t, she won’t, and he won’t, because then that would take away this little talking point and they can’t have that, now can they. Clearly, this argument is only for suckering progressives into saving a corporatist Democrat’s political ass.
The worst a hypothetical Republican governor could do is try to unilaterally block localities and schools from enacting mask mandates. But yeah, good luck to that hapless governor. If the veto-proof Democratic supermajority doesn’t codify the right to enact mandates first, the Democratic-appointed judicial system in California will.
So, no. It’s not up to me or any other self-respecting leftist to save Gavin Newsom’s miserable career. I see all the pleas to vote No on the Recall and I immediately think of Rorschach’s line from Watchmen: — all the whores and politicians will look up and shout “Save us!”… and I’ll whisper “no.” —
As for the replacement election for the recall, I received an email from the League of Pissed Off Voters, a San Francisco-based progressive group, and their recommendation was 1. No on Recall (ugh) and 2. Joel Ventresca for the replacement election (unofficially; this was not an official endorsement). I looked up all 26 replacement candidates who aren’t a Republican, a Libertarian, or an American Independence Party member – so this is 11 Democrats, 2 Greens, and 13 independents. After having done so, I have to agree with their choice of Joel Ventresca as the replacement candidate.
Not unexpectedly, most of the candidates just didn’t seem serious. Their writings came off as simplistic and amateur, even if they were okay on the issues (with varying degrees of vaguery in their issue positions). Democrat Jacqueline McGowan and Green Daniel Kapelovitz looked decent but they are saying No on Recall. That’s not a dealbreaker for me, but I prefer someone who’s a Yes or who will at least criticize Newsom. Independent Michael Loebs also could be good but he’s a part of the California National Party, a California secessionist party, and I’m not for that.
The best choice to me is Joel Ventresca. His platform looks pretty solid, and while he doesn’t explicitly say Yes or No on the Recall, he does criticize Newsom, and in appropriately harsh terms. He also seems more serious about politics in general, and he has relatively more experience with political activism and campaigns, including running for Mayor of San Francisco in 2019.
I would be thrilled to have Joel Ventresca as my governor instead of Gavin Newsom. I’m voting Yes on Recall, and Yes on Joel Ventresca.