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Editorial

Basslines and Protest Signs Part 82: The Recall of Gavin Newsom is Disingenuous

Gavin Newsom (photo credit: Gage Skidmore via Wikicommons)

Gavin Newsom, Governor of California, is far from a perfect man. Jello Biafra, former Dead Kennedys man, has been referring to him as “Newscum” for years and is super-critical of his record on homelessness among other things.

Far from perfect. And when Newsom attended a birthday party during the pandemic, breaking rules that he helped implement, Republicans were quick to pounce. Newsom issued a statement that read:

“While our family followed the restaurant’s health protocols and took safety precautions, we should have modeled better behavior and not joined the dinner.”

That was really, really dumb. It was particularly dumb because it opened him up to this needless and unwarranted recall election, at a time when California needs stability. Republicans are mentioning him in the same breath as disgraced former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo but that case is very different. Cuomo sexually harassed women. He got what was coming to him. See, this isn’t a partisan game. Or it shouldn’t be.

Newsom was guilty of some hypocrisy when he attended that party, but that doesn’t change the fact that the measures he put in place were and are warranted. Since that ill-advised event, he’s shown much better judgement and has proven to be the Governor California needs during this terrible time. 

The GOP frontrunner in the election is Larry Elder, a climate change denier and anti-vax campaigner. He’s a wingnut and he shouldn’t stand a chance. But the California recall election rules are weird and kinda undemocratic. As Vox put it:

“Newsom needs to win a majority of the vote to stay in office. If he fails to get that majority, his replacement can win merely by being the top-vote getter in a crowded field. Two recent polls have shown conservative talk radio host Larry Elder (R) in first place with 23 percent of the vote — a small plurality that could still make him governor if Newsom loses the recall question.”

In other words, Newsom doesn’t just need to beat his closest rival — he needs to poll higher than everyone else combined. If he doesn’t, then his closest rival wins. Completely bizarre.

It’s not only the pandemic and Newsom’s handling of it that caused the petitioners to take such ridiculous and drastic action. One grievance reads:

“Laws he endorsed favor foreign nationals, in our country illegally, over that of our own citizens. People in this state suffer the highest taxes in the nation, the highest homelessness rates, and the lowest quality of life as a result. He has imposed sanctuary state status and fails to enforce immigration laws. He unilaterally over-ruled the will of the people regarding the death penalty. He seeks to impose additional burdens on our state by the following; removing the protections of Proposition 13, rationing our water use, increasing taxes and restricting parental rights.”

Ahhh, that old Republican racism rears its head in the form of “pseudo pro-America”/anti-immigrant soundbites. You can set your watch by it. 

But the pandemic is the meat of the complaint. Republican Kevin Faulconer doesn’t like that schools were closed, despite the fact that children under 12 are still not eligible for vaccination. 

Full disclosure: This writer’s nine-year-old son will not be attending in-person school this year, or at least until he can get the shot. The Delta strain is affecting more and more younger people, and I’m not taking any risks at all. Especially with so many parents protesting against masks — an utterly insane stance to take. 

L: Liquid Giraffe (photo: Kraig Tyler | Skeleton Studios) // R: Dominique Pruitt (photo: Ron Pruitt)

Newsom took a hard line stance — the opposite to what was going on in Florida. As a result, he likely saved thousands of lives. Honestly, his line could have been harder. It was probably inevitable that the pandemic would be politicized. Everything is nowadays, including the current debacle in Afghanistan. It would be naive to expect otherwise. But nothing is more puerile than the idea that masks and vaccines are simply tools to pull citizens in line. That to defy science is to be a lover of American freedom, and to do what the scientists say is to be a sheep. These ideas, by the way, come from the same people taking actual sheep medicine by the bucket-load because they read something on the internet. 

To recall Newsom now is to fall into a Republican trap. For the governor of California to be GOP is scary and undemocratic. When I reached out online, California musicians were swift to have their say.

“I cannot stress enough how important it is to vote NO in the CA recall election,” says Kraig Tyler of electronic project Liquid Giraffe. “The leading candidate to replace the Newsom is Larry fucking Elder, a pro-disease misogynist and conspiracy theorist who will gladly turn our state into a COVID disaster like Florida, where they’re experiencing 241 deaths a day while CA has 70 with twice the population. Newsom won with 62% of the vote to serve a 4 year term. There is another proper election in 9 months if you want change. Don’t allow the failed CA GOP to install a fringe candidate with 18% of the vote just to ‘own the libs.’ Protect the integrity of our elections, keep CA safe and vote NO.”

Singer and songwriter Dominique Pruitt says:

“This recall is a massive waste of energy and resources. Most people don’t realize that it’s costing approximately $297 MILLION (per the CA finance dept.) and may cost upwards of $400 million in the end! Newsom is up for re-election in one year anyway, but Republican panties are in a twist that he had dinner at The French Laundry during lockdown and now want his head for it. Sure, that was a stupid move and you don’t even have to love Newsom. But, Larry Elder as a replacement? NO thank you. Elder openly says that ‘women know less than men’ in the issues that voters face, and believes that when women become mothers they are ‘less valuable workers.’ He is against Roe V Wade, against minimum wage, and believes global warming is a ‘myth.’ This is the true opposite of what we need for California and will only turn the clock back.”

Frank Meyer and Eddie Spaghetti (photo credit: Sawa)

Frank Meyer of The Streetwalkin’ Cheetahs, among other bands, agrees.

“I think it’s ridiculous,” he says. “Every governor has had a rough time dealing with Covid and he’s no different. Has he done a perfect job? Absolutely not. But who has? The information changes constantly. Plus I just don’t like the idea of everyone holding him accountable to one issue and then voting some half-assed joker in. This whole thing just becomes an opportunity for someone much less qualified and much less knowledgeable to come in and wreak havoc. Plus part of why we even have elections is that there’s a beginning date and an end date and we give that person a chance in between. So let’s see this through!”

Eddie Spaghetti of The Supersuckers offers a vivid reason to vote no.

“The world of politics is like a never ending toilet bowl,” he says. “You can flush all the turds you want, but there is always another one coming. No such thing as a perfect turd. They all stink. That said, I vote NO on the recall. It feels like an agenda driven power grab by the most greedy turds in the bowl.”

Sounds about right!