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Understanding California’s Gubernatorial Recall Election

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

In the all-consuming mass panic in the midst of a pandemic, climate crisis, and the ongoing conflict occurring in Afghanistan, there is another catastrophe that US-based people, particularly Californians, can look forward to: the 2021 Gubernatorial Recall Election. 

At this point in the year, you are probably as burnt out as I am, having suffered through myself and my biology professors freaking out about the pandemic, stressing about the anti-maskers and the anti-vaxxers, and exasperated by the sheer number of people who used hydroxychloroquine (an immunosuppressant and antiparasitic) and ivermectin (a horse dewormer). 

As if a break from the pandemic was too much for humanity to achieve, California voters have successfully petitioned to launch a Gubernatorial Recall Election. Not only is this the sixth attempt to recall Gavin Newsom since his election in 2018, but it also elicits about seven different responses from me, all of them overwhelmingly negative. 

So, what is this election and why are we freaking out?

First of all, I lose sleep over everything: the pandemic (I can’t believe I’m losing sleep over anti-vaxxers, but here I am), the climate crisis (it was eighty degrees in San Francisco in August), the situation in Afghanistan (the US has had troops in Afghanistan as long as I’ve been alive).

Second, this election is stupid, really stupid. 

From the timing and candidates to how much money it is costing taxpayers, everything about the recall election seems less like a check-and-balance and more like a blatant grab of power.

Governor Newsom’s term ends in January of 2023, with a regularly planned election in November of 2022. That’s just a little over a year away. 

Newsom’s term is nearly over. 

If Republicans are unhappy with how the state is run, they are more than welcome to produce a candidate in the year of an actual election. Not only have they been attempting a recall since his appointment into office in 2018, but they have also attempted six. This is only Newsom’s first term. 

The candidates range from Larry Elder (a talk-show host) to Caitlyn Jenner (a former Olympian and TV personality). Since when did being a celebrity equate to political experience? 

Larry Elder, the front-running Republican candidate, is prepared to fully lift mask and vaccine mandates. He’s also extremely conservative. He doesn’t believe in a minimum wage or support abortions. He also doesn’t believe in implementing sexual education or critical race theory in schools. 

It’s disturbing that so many people support his values, especially in a state as deeply blue as California. It’s important to remember that there’s a deep divide in California. Metropolitan cities such as San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Diego are deeply Democrat and densely populated, essentially swinging the vote left every election. However, other parts of California are deeply Republican and have been for a very long time. 

It’s easy to stay in the Democrat bubble in a big, liberal city where everyone’s values align with yours. But this recall election is a reckoning, an eye-opening experience that reminds people even the most reliably left-leaning state still has Republican constituents. 

Finally, this re-election is costing California taxpayers 276 million dollars. Yes, you read that right. 

Two hundred and seventy-six million dollars. 

For all the recall supporters citing Newsom’s lack of initiative in affordable housing, houselessness and unemployment insurance as reasons behind the recall, this money could be diverted towards solving these issues instead. 

I’m all for democracy. I believe in the people’s choice to elect their own leaders and voting to remove leaders from office if they have done something that contradicts the Constitution that they swore to uphold. 

Supporting a recall election simply because you do not support an elected official’s political party or their policies are an inconvenience for your personal life are not valid reasons. 

Something I’m very quickly learning is that nothing in politics is black and white. Every issue has multiple underlying causes and avenues to fix. It’s easy to point fingers at the person in charge because you don’t know who else to point fingers at. 

Being butthurt about a stay-at-home order or having to wear a mask outside to help protect your community is selfish. Defying vaccine recommendations from trained professionals who have studied diseases their entire career is ridiculous. Wasting taxpayer money that can be diverted to help fix the very issues you are upset about is childish.

Whether we like it or not, we all depend on each other to keep ourselves and our community safe. We all have to make sacrifices: whether it’s working from home, wearing a mask when we go grocery shopping, or limiting our time in public spaces to ensure that the virus doesn’t spread further. With the rampant transmission of new COVID-19 strains, we need to come together as a whole and not waste our time, energy, and resources fighting over an election that would have happened anyway.

I am a senior at the University of San Francisco, majoring in Biology and minoring in Biochemistry. I am from Monterey, California where you can find me kayaking, surfing, or baking!