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NO on recalling Gov. Newsom!

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A recall petition against California Governor Gavin Newsom is “rapidly gaining steam,” the San Francisco Chronicle reports. The newspaper also wrote that unnamed officials “close to” Newsom “are reportedly worried that the current recall effort amidst frustration over his handling of the coronavirus pandemic could prove successful.”

The effort is “a long-shot conservative” push to overthrow Newsom, a Democrat, and replace him with a Republican. One name frequently mentioned is the GOP mayor of San Diego, Kevin Faulconer, who for months has scarcely tried to hide his ambitions to become Governor. Like Trump, Faulconer took to Twitter to repeatedly blast Newsom. “His kids can learn in person. But yours can’t,” Faulconer wrote, in reference to Newsom’s kids being enrolled in private schools while most public schools remain closed. “He can celebrate birthday parties. But you can’t. He can dine on a $350 meal at one [of] California’s fanciest restaurants during the worst recession in generations. But you definitely can’t. Can you believe this? I can’t.”

The “$350 meal” is a reference to Newsom’s politically disastrous participation in a private dinner at The French Laundry in November, caught on camera by a diner startled to see California’s Governor, in seeming violation of his own protocols against large, maskless restaurant gatherings. Newsom was forced to apologize for that gaffe, but the damage was done—and Republicans aren’t letting the public forget about it.

Let me make my own position instantly clear: I am against recalling Newsom. It’s a stupid, vengeful stunt by Republicans. There are only two reasons why the recall petitions might actually get the motion on the 2021 ballot:

  1. People—Democrats, Republicans and Independents—are sick and tired of the stay-at-home orders and the business closures. I certainly am. There’s a part of me that, like the Howard Beale character in Network, is saying, “I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore.” I want my local restaurants, bars and clubs to stay alive; I want my gym to be open; I want schools to reopen. I grieve for all the hairstylists and nail stylists who are losing jobs and going broke. Like many Californians, I find the shutdown orders from the state confusing and inconsistent: one day restaurants can serve outdoors, the next day they can’t; then they can again, and then they can’t again. It’s frustrating and irritating. When people are angry and frustrated, they lash out at whomever seems to be the most convenient target, the scapegoat. In this case, it’s the most visible politician in California: Gavin Newsom.
  2. The second reason the recall initiative might make it to the ballot is because of Republican support. Already, Faulconer and his allies are raising vast amounts of money to pay signature-gatherers to obtain the 1.5 million signatures (of a total state population of 40 million) needed for listing. This isn’t the first time these Republicans have tried to recall Newsom; in fact, it’s the fifth time in the last 18 months. The backers always include California’s most rightwing, conservative, religious activists. The first four recall efforts failed miserably because Newsom was a popular Governor and nobody blamed him for the worsening coronavirus pandemic, or for any other issues.

But after the French Laundry episode, in which he hurt himself badly, the public may now be starting to let their resentment at the closures be tinged with the worst epithet a politician can be called: hypocrite.

I would ask my fellow Californians to put their anger and frustration aside and consider the facts. With respect to the closures, what would people have Gov. Newsom do? No one knows, more than he does, how painful the business shutdowns are. Newsom–a restaurant entrepreneur himself–hears everyday from the restaurant, bar, health club and other industries; they’re practically screaming into his ear. Newsom did not run for governor to preside over the destruction of the California economy. But what are his options? The pandemic is spreading in California at an unprecedented rate. Do people really wish to see him re-open the economy and cause more tens of thousands to die? Put yourself in Newsom’s shoes, Californians. If you were in his position, you’d do the same thing.

Besides, the inconsistency, frustrating as it is, is happening in every state in the union. The reason this coronavirus is called “novel” is because it never happened before. Every governor in all 50 states has struggled over what to do. And the fact that the incompetent, corrupt regime of Donald Trump refused to take charge of a national effort to battle COVID meant that each governor was on his or her own in devising a strategy. Yes, Newsom’s response has been in fits and starts, but so have been the responses of every other governor, Republican or Democrat. (Would Californians really prefer a sycophantic hack like Florida’s Ron DeSantis?) It’s patently unfair to saddle Newsom with this catastrophe.

Californians should see right through the Republican charges against the governor for what they are: rank, political opportunism. Rather than criticize their own Dear Leader for denying the seriousness of COVID-19 from day one, and rather than telling people the truth about social distancing and mask-wearing, these Republicans like Faulconer allow the lies and disinformation of rightwing media to spread unchecked, while disseminating their own untruths about Newsom.

Gavin Newsom is a smart, idealistic, serious policy guy, exactly the sort of leader California needs to lead us through, and out of, this current disaster. I urge everyone to NOT sign the recall petition if they’re asked to, and I also urge everyone to vote NO on the recall, if it makes it to the ballot. Don’t react with your emotions, friends. Use your God-given brains.

  1. John Buchholz says:

    What is the Governor to do? Leave people alone, assess their own levels of risk and continue to pursue their businesses so as to be able to feed and clothe their families. Despite masks and shutdowns the virus continues to spread and less than 2% of infections come from interactions at restaurants and stores. 99.95% of all infected get over it, only the most vulnerable are at risk, just as they are with the common cold or the latest strain of influenza. At our School of Medicine 1/3 have been infected and 100% of us wore masks! The Governor continues to receive his fat pay check while California businesses collapse. And what is he proposing? Higher taxes! And you have the nerve to call this man “intelligent”?The viral spread will run its course until there are no longer any susceptible hosts. This is what happened in Sweden and the virus does not care who it infects as it is an equal opportunity employer in all nations. Gavin Newsom is a political plague and needs to suffer the consequences. I am one of the 825,000 (and growing number) that signed the recall petition. Democrats need to fear the voters and they will after we cast this political scourge to the curbside.

  2. You make some valid points. I, too, wish restaurants, bars and gyms would reopen, with proper precautions, and I have communicated that to Gov. Newsom. As to your other points, it may be true that most people recover from COVID, but, as a senior citizen, I’m at high risk, and I’m not willing to let you infect me because you think your rights are being violated. Most U.S. governors, and most leaders of European and other countries (not to mention China), are doing exactly the same things as Gavin Newsom, and I don’t see you insulting them the way you do Gov. Newsom. You undermine the strength of your arguments by your nasty tone. “This man [Newsom]…a political plague…a scourge.” You refer to Sweden as some kind of role model, but cases there are skyrocketing; the situation is so dire that, on Dec. 18, the Swedish government finally followed the rest of Europe and the U.S. and called for face masks and social distancing. Indeed, world opinion now is that Sweden badly botched their initial response to the pandemic and is suffering the consequences.

    You also conveniently ignore the fact that one of the reasons for the latest closures is the burden this is placing on hospitals. Southern California and the Central Valley are at zero ICU capacity; the Bay Area is fast approaching the same catastrophic level. Just the other day, the leaders of the Bay Area’s leading healthcare companies issued a stark warning: soon there will be no room at all for patients. But I suppose you consider them plagues and scourges as well.

    Frankly, John, you sound like a rightwing, cranky, anti-science Trumper.

  3. John Buchholz says:

    Your name calling shows that you do not have a cogent argument. The voters are losing confidence in this tyrant of a Governor and unconstitutional lockdowns are not working. We know from biomedical science that a virus cannot be stopped. It will fizzle out when it runs out of vulnerable hosts. in a recent review article discussion among our faculty shows the statistical efficacy of masks. The efficacy ranges from a low of zero to 59% efficacy with a standard deviation of 95% of the mean. This data shows that at best the efficacy is equivocal. So what is going on here? There are thousands of mask producers using different ratios of cotton to synthetic thread, different thread counts resulting in a wide variation of the mesh size of the masks. There is no standardization of manufacturing so the efficacy data is all over the place. Less than 2% of infections are the result of indoor dining and 99% of people get past the virus. If one is willing to sacrifice constitutional freedoms in the name of safety, they neither deserve freedom or safety. Tick tock! 1 million signatures and counting! See you at the polls.

  4. Readers: study Mr. Buchhholz’s comment. It is a classic example of Trumpian propaganda. All I will say in response is that Gov. Newsom is doing what half the other Governors in America are doing, and what the leaders of half the nations of the world are doing. They are listening to public health experts, not to liars like Trump and shills like Mr. Buchholz. I suppose Mr. Buchholz would argue that, in addition to recalling Gov. Newsom, the people of Great Britain should recall Prime Minister Johnson, the people of India recall Prime Minister Modi, the people of Ohio recall Republican Gov. Mike DeWine, etc. etc. This is how absurd and stupid these Trump shills have become. Don’t listen to them! See them for what they are–angry, rightwing dead-enders.

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