Consumers of broadcast television were treated to a barrage of ads over the past week lambasting the “Republican Recall.” Revealed at the close of these ads was the source of major funding for the ads, Netflix founder and billionaire Reed Hastings. Compared to other Silicon Valley notables such as Mark Zuckerberg, who spent $400 million to tilt the outcome of the 2020 presidential election, Hastings flies mostly under the radar. But that’s changing fast.
Last year, Hastings contributed nearly two million to a dirty campaign that got George Gascon elected to Los Angeles County District Attorney not by extolling his virtues and qualifications, but by maliciously maligning the incumbent. Angelenos are paying an awful price, as Gascon implements a crime friendly regime that has aroused open rebellion among his subordinates and enraged so many residents that the vast county teeters on the precipice of political realignment.
Not content with supporting the problematic Gascon, Hastings now has his eyes on the whole state. But what motivates him to do this? Why is keeping Newsom in office so important to Reed Hastings that he’s willing to throw additional millions into a statewide political campaign? Hastings, like dozens of his progressive billionaire counterparts in the Silicon Valley, is not stupid. So what part of Newsom’s legacy is he so determined to protect, and what is it about the recall movement that he consider so toxic?
It’s fair to wonder the rhetoric you’ll hear from the fringes of any movement. California has its share of extremists and eccentrics, although it’s hard to imagine they’re any crazier on the Right than on the Left. But not only are the extremists on the Right in California given inordinate levels of attention and condemnation, they are portrayed as representing the entire Republican party. This is absurd and unfair, and Gavin Newsom has angered far more people than the small percentage of California’s conservatives that qualify as extreme.
Consider these basic facts relating to California’s electorate. As of February 2021, Republican statewide voter registration stands at a pitiful 24 percent. And yet two recent polls show voters almost split 50/50 on the question of a recall. The Emerson Poll, released on July 22, has 43 percent of Californians supporting a recall, vs 48 percent opposed, with 9 percent undecided. An LA Times / UC Berkeley poll released on July 27 is even closer, showing 47 percent supporting a recall vs 50 percent opposed.
You may interpret those results any way you like, but simile aside, you can’t call this a “Republican Recall.” Because Republican voters, even if they were monolithically in alignment, would only account for half of the people polled who support a recall.
Something else is going on. Reed Hastings, and the entire progressive elite that are, now more than ever, using their billions to swing state and national elections, are advised to reconsider the true sources of discontent with politicians like Newsom. As the summer wears on, and the forests burn, water rationing takes full effect, and the streets of every major city become even more impassable, here are some questions they might ask:
Why is Governor Newsom inviting the homeless and dispossessed of the world to come to California, when his plan to help them involves spending hundreds of billions to build shelters in the most expensive parts of town? How’s that going to work?
Why isn’t Newsom facing reality, acknowledging human nature, and recognizing that when you decriminalize crime and don’t get drug addicts off the street, your fair weather state becomes a magnet for every predator and drug user in America?
When the forests start burning again, will Newsom convene the lobbyists and legislators that have conspired for the last thirty years to destroy the timber, biomass, and cattle businesses in California and demand they negotiate a pathway to reviving these taxpaying, job creating, forest thinning industries?
When water rationing becomes extreme, will Newsom tell the truth to the environmentalists that have held up water projects for decades: that Californians cannot solve water scarcity merely through conservation, that it’s time to set an example to the world of environmentally sustainable desalination, water reuse, runoff capture, and yes, even expansion of surface reservoirs, and it needs to be done in years, not decades?
When blackouts and brownouts return on the hottest days, will Newsom have the courage to suggest maybe California can keep more of its clean burning natural gas power plants operating, figure out a way to keep Diablo Canyon operating safely for another thirty years or more, and, gasp, permit construction of new and modern nuclear power plants?
And as investment banks gobble up single family dwellings across the state, pricing ordinary working families out of home ownership, Newsom pushes to destroy “exclusionary” zoning laws, so these banks can demolish these homes to build fourplexes and fill them up with rent subsidized occupants. Never mind the neighbor who worked their whole life like a dog to pay their mortgage to live in a nice neighborhood. After all, they’re “privileged.” Their lives don’t matter.
Instead, Newsom, joined by his woke gang of billionaire allies, perseverate over “disproportionate outcomes,” demanding redress and restitution and reparations. Apparently they think that unaffordable housing, unreliable electricity, $5.00 per gallon gasoline, and rationed water, or forest fires that choke half the state in unbreathable filth, or power brownouts that last for days, or streets overran with criminals and drug addicts are problems of which only “Republicans” are unreasonable enough to object.
Gavin Newsom is fighting for his political life. Why he is getting cover from billionaires like Reed Hastings is anyone’s guess. Newsom, Hastings, and the entire moneyed ruling class in California are invited to ponder the preceding questions, and other questions of that ilk, and decide what they stand for. Don’t blame this recall on Republicans. Look in the mirror.
This article originally appeared on the website of the 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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