Celebrate Victory Against CA Recall Which Way Forward
I worked to defeat the recall election of Governor Newsom (held on September 14) because the recall was part of the continuing strategy of right-wing Republicans to undermine and suppress the vote – a national campaign that has led to laws in 47 states to restrict the ability of people to cast their votes and chose their leaders at every level of government. It was funded by major right-wing donors to consolidate and further privatize their hold on public institutions such as schools, health care and labor laws.
In California, these right-wing politicians – like Larry Elder, the leading Republican candidate hoping to gain the governorship through the recall – could have won with only 10% of the vote under California’s recall procedures. We see the recall as a type of voter suppression because it goes against the popular vote and gives the right-wing minority the power.
In California, the Republicans can’t limit voting the way they’ve been able to in other states. According to Josh Newman, Southern California Senator, writing in CalMatters, “low-turnout recall elections are the Republican strategy for victory.” (April 14, 2021).
The recall’s agenda attacked the rights of workers. For example, Larry Elder called for no minimum wage at all – this is an attack on farm-workers and low wage “essential workers” who are most vulnerable to employer abuse. About half of all workers in low-wage occupations were deemed essential during the pandemic, with an estimated 22.3 million essential workers in occupations with median wages below $15 an hour nationally. California has huge numbers – up to a million – of migrant and indigenous workers who need protection from the state.
Also, the Recall would certainly set back the campaign for Medicare for All, an essential public health advance that would bring about universal coverage. The most difficult thing while working against the recall was to persuade people that Democratic Party was actually doing something for them and not just for the corporations. The Democrats have made themselves vulnerable by not solving problems such as housing and health care with robust programs for working class people. They often have talked the talk but rarely walked the walk. My biggest satisfaction was the unity of a wide range of organizations, recognizing that the recall was bigger than any individual issue and was to keep California from becoming a red, fascist state.
We celebrate those voters chose, by a significant majority, to defeat what would have been a coup by the fascist right in California. But what is the way forward in the post-recall era?
We will double down on demanding from Newsom and the Democratic controlled state legislature significant advances in solving the housing crisis that leaves our people in the streets, or severely overcrowded, or forced to leave the state with massive investment into housing exceeding the annual investment into prisons-more than 13 billion per year.
That they pass CalCare, AB 1400, that would guarantee quality health care for all. That they set a minimum wage that would mean a truly dignified life for food and service workers.
We will continue to use the electoral arena to support and fight for state and local unbought candidates, who will boldly fight for a human needs and social justice agenda.
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