Vote “YES” on democracy, “NO” on the recall


Credit: Sydney Fener/Chronicle

Lucas Cohen-D'Arbeloff

Millions of Californians, including many school seniors, can now find mail-in ballots on their doorstep. The helm of our state government hangs in the balance. Recall organizers garnered more than 2 million signatures in their campaign to remove Gov. Gavin Newsom, reaching the necessary threshold to trigger a recall election Sept. 14. Estimated to cost taxpayers $276 million, this election presents a clear choice: Vote “NO” on the misguided recall scheme.

As we recover from COVID-19, a sudden change in leadership would be disastrous for our state. Introducing a new set of bureaucrats to Sacramento with a governor who requires on-the-job training makes for a perfect storm, impairing progress during critical months. This scenario is compounded by the Republican frontrunners’ utter inexperience. In particular, conservative radio host Larry Elder, businessman John Cox and reality star Caitlyn Jenner have no business running a government. The group of candidates is so dreadful that the California Republican Party chose not to endorse a single one.

The significance of this election reaches far beyond Gov. Newsom’s occasional errors. We must examine the likely alternatives when choosing whether to vote to remove him. Guest editorialist Jack Coleman ’22 wrote that the recall effort is “not a partisan issue” in March. This is simply untrue. A July Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies poll states that 87% of Republicans support the recall, compared to 9% of Democrats. Coleman’s other criticisms of Newsom—namely unopened schools and vaccine rollout issues—are now irrelevant: Schools are fully reopening and remote learning will soon be far behind us. The ostensibly “slow” vaccine rollout is now unimportant, since vaccines are widely available. And Newsom’s French Laundry scandal from a year ago, in which he violated lockdown rules to go to dinner, is a comically inconsequential reason to remove him in the middle of his term.

We should not have an emergency election because Newsom attended a dinner party. The recall process is meant purely for crises and is undemocratic. It’s true that if 51% of voters vote “YES,” and 49% vote “NO,” Newsom will be removed from office. But if the replacement candidate with the most votes only garners, say, 15%, they will become governor of California despite more people supporting Newsom.

Thus, the recall system will likely be abused in the future by disgruntled California Republicans who are tired of losing big in a blue state. If they succeed, we can expect recall petitions every time a Democrat is elected governor.

Let us also remember Sen. Dianne Feinstein. She is now 88, and if she were to retire in the time between now and 2022, the victor in the recall would appoint her successor. This potential scenario serves as another example of the undemocratic nature of the recall process, as Republicans could gain a seat in the evenly divided Senate through the appointment.

As young residents of California, we must be able to determine our representation and stand against those who are trying to sabotage it. While this election might feel insignificant, the consequences are very real. To those who don’t like Newsom: Don’t throw the state into chaos by voting him out in the recall election—just vote him out in 2022. Do not fall for the Republicans’ cynical power grab. Turn out to vote “NO” Sept. 14.