With nearly 900,000 signed recall petitions already collected, four active recall committees now operating, and belated but significant press coverage shining a spotlight on the effort, the chances that Gavin Newsom will be in a fight for his political life in the Spring of 2021 has gone from a longshot to a distinct possibility.
In an article published by NBC News entitled “Recall effort against California governor an attempt to destabilize the political system,” Newsom spokesperson Dan Newman called the recall effort “a distraction and a circus.” Newman also characterized the recall proponents as “a ragtag crew of pro-Trump, anti-vaccine extremists, along with some ambitious Republican politicians who would like to be governor,” and warned that a recall election could cost taxpayers “upward of $100 million.”
Any candidate willing to stand against Newsom in a special recall election could start right there. They could explain that the money Newsom and his party’s policies have wasted, the wealth they have vaporized, and the hard won prosperity they have expropriated, makes $100 million a trivial price to pay for a course correction. A victorious challenger begins by quantifying the economic cost of policies imposed on Californians by Newsom. They then offer bright and bold alternatives that remove these oppressive burdens and restore opportunities to normal Californians.
The first step would be to point out the tragic cost of the extreme reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead of quarantining the elderly and medically vulnerable, Newsom quarantined the entire population. This prevented Californians from acquiring herd immunity, and allowed the virus time to mutate into alarming new variants that may be used to justify lockdowns lasting years. Meanwhile, the damage to California’s economy includes over 2.6 million jobs lost. So far, less than half of those jobs have been regained.
A conservative, back-of-the-envelope estimate of the cost of this policy would be to take the average annual salary in California, which is $63,000, times one-million jobs lost for one year. That would be $63 billion. Compare that to the $100 million cost of a “distraction and a circus” necessary to get rid of the governor that caused this catastrophe.
And then there are the fires, caused not by “climate change,” but explicitly by the policies of California’s one-party state legislature that all but destroyed the timber industry. If the annual harvest of timber in California were tripled, back to the level it was before the Sierra Club and their allies declared war on logging, the amount of timber being removed from California’s forests each year would be equal to the amount of annual growth. This would restore California’s forests to health, and would cost nothing.
Instead of seeing millions of acres of overgrown, neglected forests burn in super fires every year, costing billions and displacing thousands of people, we would see thousands of new jobs, and the timber companies would maintain fire roads and fire breaks, as well as trim the growth along transmission line corridors. But when the latest round of infernos terrorized California last summer, what did Newsom do? Called for more electric cars. That is the act of a clown. That is what you might expect of a “distraction and a circus.”
There’s no end to the nonsense that Newsom and his party have concocted. After already wasting well over $5 billion, they want to redirect the rest of the nearly $100 billion earmarked for the bullet train into “light rail.” That’s $100 billion vs. $100 million for a special election. Note to innumerate journalists: One billion is one-thousand million. Finding a politician that will put money into freeways and smart roads instead of mass transit in the age of COVID for a mere $100 million is a cheap date.
What about housing and the homeless? Consider the staggering economic cost of overpriced housing. If the median price of homes in California were $250,000, like they are in Texas, instead of an obscenely overpriced $600,000 which is California’s median, people could afford to buy homes, housing stock would increase, and more people could find shelter. Roughly 500,000 homes are sold every year in California. That means that instead of paying around $935 per month (30 year fixed at 3%), each year another half million new Californian homeowners are paying around $2,250 per month. The difference adds up to another $10 billion per year, compounded every year, coming out of Californians’ pockets for the privilege of living here. And the beneficiaries? Exiles, who took the money and ran to other states, where they’ll spend their winnings starting a new life somewhere they feel welcome instead of oppressed.
As for California’s homeless, 150,000 strong? Their numbers keep rising, despite tens of billions already spent on “supportive housing” that costs over $500,000 per unit. Newsom presides over this racketeering scandal, which only benefits politically connected “nonprofit” developers, their for-profit vendors, and public sector bureaucracies, and does nothing to reduce the numbers of homeless.
The cost of energy is another way that Newsom and his gang have oppressed Californians. California’s notoriously corrupt Public Utilities Commission has been systematically decommissioning clean natural gas and nuclear power plants in favor of far more expensive solar and wind power. Now they are pushing to deny gas hookups in new homes. As this monstrous scam quietly gathers momentum, special interests line up for a piece of the action: along with the entire “renewables” industry, add all those high tech firms and appliance manufacturers that intend to create “connectable” washers, dryers, dishwashers, heaters, air conditioners, water heaters and refrigerators to “help” consumers manage their consumption. The cost to retrofit every one of California’s 13 million households? If all seven of these major appliances could be purchased for under $10,000 – and that’s a laugh – it would “only” cost California’s consumers $130 billion.
When calibrating the economic and social costs of the Gavin Newsom administration, the state of California’s public schools has to rank at or near the top. Governor Newsom is wholly owned by the teachers’ unions. This is the reason he has supported legislation designed to undermine charter schools, it’s why he blocks any other attempts at education reform, and it’s why he hasn’t pushed harder for California’s public schools to reopen. Thanks to politicians like Gavin Newsom, there is a generation of youth that are not getting the education they deserve. The cost of this policy failure is incalculable.
The Winning Strategy
Beating a governor like Gavin Newsom ought to be easy, but it will require a candidate with the courage to promote bold solutions. For example:
Open California back up for business. Focus on protecting the vulnerable instead of locking down an entire population. Demand legislation to restore responsible logging in California’s forests. Support infrastructure projects that offer practical value to all Californians – more water storage, more roads and freeways, and clean, cost effective, conventional energy from natural gas and nuclear power. Explain that housing will not become affordable until cities are allowed to build again on California’s abundant open land, perhaps in the places currently earmarked for solar farms. Expose the homeless industrial complex boondoggle and call for supervised, no-frills homeless encampments to be built in areas where land is inexpensive. Change the laws to restore penalties for hard drug use, public intoxication, petty crime, and vagrancy, and watch most of the homeless problem evaporate overnight. Push for school vouchers, so parents have absolute choice over where to send their children to get an education, and the teachers union monopoly on public education is broken forever.
Along with bold policies, however, a successful candidate must run a bold campaign.
That would begin with the unshakable belief that what they are proposing is something that every ordinary Californian wants, especially low and middle income Californians. The successful candidate should prioritize campaigning in low income neighborhoods. They should enlist the support of conservative activists in the black and Latino communities, but not as an afterthought, or as one item on a vast strategy checklist, but as the core strategy. They should be physically present in these communities in every venue they can find. They should be visible on social media with a focus on these communities. And they should repeat, over and over, not pandering sops to the various identity groups they address, but their bold policy agenda for that is designed to benefit everyone.
The political elite in California is a hereditary aristocracy. Brown, Pelosi, Getty, Newsom. A tribe, connected by blood and money. Newsom, the poor soul, might be aptly compared to Czar Nicholas, a weak man who was forced by fate to govern a fading empire. Then again, California isn’t exactly fading, at least not yet. Instead, the recent explosion of Silicon Valley wealth has buttressed what was already a formidable coalition of aristocratic old money, powerful environmentalist pressure groups, and a public sector bureaucracy coopted by union negotiated pay and benefit packages that largely immunize them to the punitive cost-of-living their policies have inflicted on everyone else.
This is the story that has to be told to Californians of all colors, genders, origins and incomes. Because it is a story of oppression by a corrupt and self-interested ruling class, and all their rhetoric about “equity” and “inclusion” is a brilliant distraction from the real issues. With any luck, Gavin Newsom is about to stand trial for crimes against the common man. If that happens, the right candidate can beat Newsom, if they are unafraid to tell the whole truth, offer the hard choices, and explain how much better life can be in the Golden 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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