Californians are facing disaster on many levels. Fires devour entire towns, the COVID Delta variant infects thousands, and unpaid rent and student debt threaten to swell the ranks of the houseless. The state’s ruling Democratic Party is failing people miserably. As a socialist feminist party, the FSP puts no faith in either of the twin parties of the profit system. Although the effort to recall California Governor Gavin Newsom offers the chance to remove a capitalist politician from office, FSP says VOTE NO. This time around, the recall and the selection of Newsom’s replacement is extremely undemocratic. It is heavily funded by the right and could install a candidate who receives only a small percent of the vote.
An undemocratic process
The right to recall began as a democratic reform to provide a means by which voters can hold elected officials accountable. Both it and the initiative process were instituted in California around 100 years ago. At that time, the Southern Pacific Railroad used its vast wealth to control the state government. Recall and initiative were introduced as tools to protect people from such moneyed minorities.
But capitalists now use these measures to their advantage. With unlimited private campaign spending, processes designed to promote democracy have become the opposite. Uber and Lyft took advantage of the initiative process last November. Spending over $200 million, they sponsored Proposition 22 to strip rideshare drivers of their rights as employees.
This recall is even more undemocratic due to the method for replacing the incumbent. After marking yes or no to removing the governor, voters are asked to choose from a list of 46 replacement candidates. The candidate with the largest number of votes wins. Newsom could be recalled if the No votes total anything less than 50% on the first part of the ballot. However, he could be replaced by someone who wins a very small percentage of the candidate votes. (Hypothetically, if all 46 candidates were to split the votes evenly, each would get 2.17%. Thus, someone could become governor with a share slightly above this percent!).
Part of a right-wing move for power
This election takes place in the context of the far right’s grab for political power in any way that it can. Besides the January 6th attempted coup to overturn the presidential election and the voting restrictions being passed by state legislatures to disenfranchise people of color and poor folks, the right wing is using recall elections around the country to install candidates who represent its anti-immigrant, racist, anti-LGBTQ+, sexist and anti-working-class program. In the effort to recall Newsom, it’s clear that the highest-polling candidates are in line with this agenda.
No support for Newsom and the Democrats
By opposing the gubernatorial recall, the FSP does not give any support to incumbent Newsom. His policies have boosted the profits of the state’s billionaires while the poorest Californians suffered unemployment or faced COVID exposure without sufficient protective gear. Instead of pushing the healthcare giants and big pharma to make testing and vaccines quickly and readily available, Newsom oversaw a haphazard county-by-county roll-out that left some of the most vulnerable to become sick and die. This includes 227 prisoners, effectively sentenced to death, when most could have been released on compassionate grounds.
No candidates to recommend
Of the 46 candidates running to replace the incumbent governor, FSP does not recommend voting for any. There are two Green Party candidates and two who identify as socialists. We do not endorse Greens. Instead of identifying the profit system as the source of the economic and social problems confronting working people, the Green Party supports a kinder, gentler form of capitalism.
Of the socialists on the ballot, David Moore, of the Socialist Equality Party, has a platform that is anti-war and anti-capitalist. But SEP (publisher of the World Socialist Web Site) is extremely sectarian. They have repeatedly dragged other left groups into the capitalist courts or harassed them with outrageous accusations. They are remarkably backward on race and sex issues, oppose affirmative action, and pay lip service to the rights of people of color, women, and queers, but abstain from the actual movements.
Dennis Richter, of the Socialist Workers Party, demands an end to capitalism, workers’ control over job conditions and defense of immigrants. But the SWP takes a competitive and sectarian attitude to other left groups. They brand as anti-Semitic anyone who supports the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement for a free Palestine against Israeli aggression. In anti-feminist fashion, they questioned the credibility of Christine Blasey Ford in her accusations of sexual assault against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.
Organize to win
The recall race highlights the limits of the electoral system in winning lasting gains for the working class. It’s time for left parties, unions, and community organizations to come together to fight for immediate needs and build a movement capable of replacing outmoded and destructive capitalism with humane socialism and workers’ democracy. The FSP invites you to work with us toward that goal!
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