With three months left to collect signatures, one of the largest and most organized grassroots efforts in the history of California politics is at a crossroads.
The Recall Newsom campaign has mobilized a bipartisan coalition involving over 100,000 volunteers, with momentum that is still building despite being almost completely ignored by the media, major donors, politicians, and political organizations. Those political organizations would include the CAGOP despite the fact that CAGOP tailors a significant percentage, perhaps even a majority, of its mass email messages to disparaging California’s hapless sitting governor.
This dismissal of California’s disenfranchised grassroots by their supposed professional champions not only signifies excessive caution and unfortunate hypocrisy, it is a practical blunder. A concerted and unified recall effort, backed by establishment political forces, would yield tangible political benefits. It would finally offer conservatives a cause that makes a compelling case to independents and disaffected Democrats. It would lend momentum to the campaigns of CAGOP candidates who endorse the recall, harnessing for their benefit the power of the recall volunteers.
Most significantly, a recall effort that was backed by the conservative establishment would be a courageous shot heard around the world. It would serve notice to anyone, anywhere, who has written California off as an ungovernable cesspool of corruption and chaos. People are fighting back, and they mean business.
What the political experts that consider a gubernatorial recall effort futile must understand is that Gavin Newsom’s failures are bigger than Gavin Newsom. If you successfully destroy the credibility of Gavin Newsom, you destroy the credibility of California’s Democratic party.
Newsom is the figurehead that represents a ruling class that has destroyed the aspirations of ordinary Californians. This ruling class incorporates leftist billionaires who are indifferent to California’s high cost-of-living. It includes public sector unions who have “negotiated” outrageous pay and pension packages which serve to exempt their members from the worst effects of California’s unaffordability.
California’s ruling class also includes radical environmentalists who, more than any other special interest, have tied California’s economy up in knots, making it nearly impossible to build new and affordable suburbs on open land, making energy and water both scarce and prohibitively expensive, and crippling with excessive regulations California’s manufacturers, oil and gas producers, timber companies, and countless other concerns that do actual productive work.
It’s time for California’s conservative establishment to stop playing only defense, or when they do go onto offense, only wage incremental battles. “We can take back an assembly district!” “We have to put all our resources into stopping the ‘split roll’ initiative!” Well, yes. And no. Of course these battles have to be fought. Meanwhile, however, there is no overall strategy or message. No unifying theme. No simple but profound rallying cry. No ecumenical passion that reaches out to every voter in California, regardless of their ideology or background. In short, it’s all tactical, which in these times of epic transformations and tensions, nobody cares about.
Getting rid of Gavin Newsom offers that strategic battle. Not just because he’s Gavin Newsom, a pompadoured white scion of incredible wealth and privilege, who nonetheless mouths “anti-racist,” “anti-sexist,” “anti-transphobic,” etc., etc., etc., identity politics bullshit that has been a useful distraction for Democrats for decades. No. Getting rid of Gavin Newsom sends a message that conservatives are serious about political realignment. Not in twenty years. Not in twenty months.
If the Gavin Newsom recall effort were backed by serious money and if this grassroots volunteer army of unprecedented size were assisted by experienced professionals, well, to paraphrase J.R.R. Tolkien, “even in Sammath Naur the very heart of his realm, the Power in Barad-dûr was shaken, and the Tower trembled from its foundations to its proud and bitter crown.”
Imagine the consternation that might spread among Democrats from Sacramento to Minneapolis if real money, serious professionals, mega donors and national conservative media were to recognize and support this Recall Gavin campaign. Imagine how the nation would react to a determined recall effort that takes to task the entire legacy of California’s democrats, holding their leader accountable. Let’s take a visual excursion into what this campaign might include:
Picture television commercials and internet videos, depicting California’s ruined cities, graphically examining these lawless cesspools of crime and drugs and feces, while blaming Gavin Newsom and his democratic party.
Imagine prime time spots, depicting California’s homeless, numbering 150,000 or more, occupying neighborhoods and city centers, the vast majority of them either substance abusers, criminals, or psychopaths, if not all three.
Imagine an aggressive media campaign to expose the corruption of the homeless advocates, who have become mere shills for subsidized developers that make their money by building “homeless housing” at a cost of between a half-million and a million dollars per unit on some of the most expensive real estate in the world, ruining these neighborhoods forever. Imagine exposing these corrupt boondoggles that cost billions, but only help a small fraction of the people in need.
Picture the videos of raging forest infernos, caused by environmentalist “experts” who conned the public and manipulated the politicians, using lobbyists and litigators to prevent forest managers from doing underbrush removal and controlled burns. Imagine getting out the truth, that these extremists and their opportunistic allies destroyed most of California’s timber industry, and tied up rational efforts to clear out the accumulating tinder in litigation and endless cycles of permit applications that wasted precious time and deterred countless efforts.
The list goes on. Low income Californians sweltering in brownouts, because safe nuclear and hydroelectric power is being decommissioned, and development of California’s abundant clean natural gas reserves is completely off the table. Failed public schools that are cramming transgender ideology down the throats of 3rd graders, instead of teaching them multiplication tables. Millions of Californians denied their livelihoods because of ill conceived, misanthropic laws that force businesses small and large to convert their independent contractors into employees, even in situations where that makes no practical or moral sense.
It doesn’t take a genius to think up all the ways California’s democrats have betrayed and oppressed ordinary Californians. It just takes the courage to say it. Spouting Black Lives Matter slogans or parroting the latest Sierra Club press releases on “climate change” may be the currency of today’s democrats, but it takes no courage and even less thought. For that matter, fighting only incremental battles for reform requires only incremental courage, and even less vision.
What California needs is for conservatives with resources and influence to seize this moment, during this critical election cycle, to capitalize on the opportunity that brave volunteers have given them. They need to hop onto this bandwagon, and make Gavin Newsom the face of everything wrong with the Democratic party. They need to take this chance to expose Newsom and his party for what they are: an elitist clique of rhetoric spewing incompetents, backed up by a coopted lying media, and funded by some of the most conniving oligarchs in the history of the world.
The Recall Gavin campaign is at a crossroads right now, but there is still time. All the pieces are in place. The hardest work has already been done.
Who will stand behind this recall? Who will give this army of volunteers the legitimacy it deserves in their battle against a failed governor and a failed party? Who will do this knowing that in return, this army shall remain intact for the next battle, and the one after that?
The Recall Gavin campaign offers millions of disenfranchised voters a voice at last. It offers conservative leaders a chance to decapitate the enemy leadership, instead of fighting a war of attrition that they’ll never win. It is a springboard from which, with stupefying rapidity, not only can the Democratic syndicate finally be rejected and broken, but policies of prosperity and freedom can be offered and accepted by voters across this great and trendsetting state.
This article originally appeared on the website California Globe.
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Edward Ring is a contributing editor and senior fellow with the California Policy Center, which he co-founded in 2013 and served as its first president. He is also a senior fellow with the Center for American Greatness, and a regular contributor to the California Globe. His work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Economist, Forbes, and other media outlets.
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