Gavin Newsom

It's Too Bad We Can't Fire More Governors

Citizens should be able to punish elected officials who have done an extraordinarily bad job rather than be forced to count on elected legislators to do the heavy lifting.

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Facing a recall election sparked partly by his heavy-handed pandemic restrictions on what Californians can do in their beloved outdoors, Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom in March chose a symbolically appropriate if politically tone-deaf venue for his annual State of the State address: an empty Dodger Stadium.

Like the beaches Newsom ordered closed the previous Fourth of July—months after researchers had become confident that outdoor settings were contributing little to the spread of COVID-19—the place Angelenos call Chavez Ravine looked unnatural without the hum of humanity. The plasticine preening from an ostensibly humbled governor didn't help either.

"Instead of fans in stands, we see nurses in [personal protective equipment], saving lives one injection at a time," Newsom said, bragging about the "most robust vaccination program in America," which nonetheless ranked in the bottom 10 based on per-capita doses administered at the time. "And look, we've made mistakes," he added. "I've made mistakes. But we own them, learn from them, and never stop trying."

If only.

One of Newsom's most damaging edicts was padlocking playgrounds—not just in the pandemic's scary early weeks, when scientists didn't understand much about how the virus was spread, but for six excruciating months. Kids in sunny California were prohibited by law from attending school or playing organized sports, long after the world's leading epidemiologists and pediatricians began preaching the benefits of outdoor play and the comparative safety of schools and day care centers.

Even after reopening the playgrounds, Newsom mandated masking there for 2-year-olds, 6 feet of separation between families, a 30-minute time limit, and no eating or drinking. Then, when COVID-19 cases started surging in December, the governor shuttered the sandboxes again, only to reverse himself after an outcry from exhausted parents.

With a brazenness only a politician or actor could summon, Newsom is defending his anti-scientific record on scientific grounds. "From the earliest days of the pandemic," he said in his Dodger Stadium speech, eyes shining with pride, "California trusted in science and data."

Sacramento placed so little trust in neutral analysis that the governor refused to share his formula for determining when counties could emerge from lockdown orders after cases spiked last Thanksgiving. (It had something to do with the state's guesstimate of future intensive care unit capacity.) "These fluid, on-the-ground conditions cannot be boiled down to a single data point," California Health and Human Services Agency spokeswoman Kate Folmar told the Associated Press in January, "and to do so would mislead and create greater uncertainty for Californians."

The Golden State has been home to some of the pandemic's most jarring visuals: the Malibu surfer pulled out of the water by cops, the Venice Beach skatepark buried in preventive sand, the furious restaurateur's video tour of a bustling film-production dining tent next door to her forcibly shuttered business. And of course there was Newsom's indoor meal at the schmancy restaurant The French Laundry, where he violated his own masking and social distancing rules. It's no wonder that Californians, who suffered an employment decline of 8.3 percent from February 2020 through the end of the year, are hopping mad.

Did all those restrictions work? Newsom sure seems to think so. "People are alive today because of the public health decisions we made," he said in his State of the State. But that is an article of faith, not science.

California as of mid-March had a cumulative COVID death rate of 144 per 100,000 residents, which is in the middle of the pack for the United States—substantially better than neighboring Nevada (167) and Arizona (228) but considerably worse than Oregon (56). The state's best comparison in terms of mild year-round climate is its polar opposite in terms of policy: Florida. The Sunshine State has a similar death rate (153 per 100,000) despite adopting a far more permissive pandemic strategy—and despite having an older and therefore more vulnerable population. As an Associated Press headline put it in March, "Despite California and Florida governors' drastically different approaches, the states saw almost identical outcomes in COVID-19 case rates."

So the wonder is not that Gavin Newsom faces a recall election. It's that New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo does not.

Cuomo, a Democrat who in a neck-snappingly short period went from the national media's "Love Gov" to its latest #MeToo whipping boy, had as of press time been urged to resign by basically every Democrat not named Joe Biden or Nancy Pelosi. Unfortunately, the primary motivation for these appeals was not Cuomo's disastrous handling of nursing homes during the first few months of the pandemic, nor his subsequent cover-up of the resulting death count, but rather his allegedly gross, sexualized interactions with multiple women, including some of his employees.

Cuomo, who at press time was still insisting he would not step down, can be removed from office only via impeachment, which would require elected officials to be brave, take on responsibility, and conduct a thorough and convincing investigation of all the relevant claims. As we saw from the two convictionless impeachments of Donald Trump, modern legislatures generally are not skilled at such tasks.

Which is why the recall is such an appropriate instrument for our times. New York is one of 31 states that do not allow voters to fire statewide officials at the ballot box. That is a shame. As the country accelerates its ideological sorting by geography, more and more people live in essentially one-party states, which is a recipe for political corruption, self-dealing, and incompetence.

As former CIA analyst Martin Gurri persuasively argues in The Revolt of the Public (Stripe Press), we are in the middle of an era in which citizens around the globe are taking a sledgehammer to elite institutions without much of an idea about what to build atop the rubble. The resulting populism is often no friend to liberal values. But the recall mechanism, which traces its roots to the Progressive Era, is a rare example of populism done right, without many of the messy side effects.

As citizens, we should be able to extraordinarily punish elected officials who have done an extraordinarily bad job, rather than counting on elected legislators to do the heavy lifting. "The nature of these things, the up-or-down question, the zero-sum nature of the question, is challenging, and it's vexing," Newsom said in mid-March on The View. Quite.

As a Californian transplanted to New York, I look on the Newsom recall campaign with envy. There is no vote I cherish more than the one I cast in 2003 to remove the odious Democratic Gov. Gray Davis, and I only wish I could do the same with Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, for starters.

In 30 of the 50 states, the same party that received the 2020 presidential vote also currently controls the governorship, the legislature, and the U.S. Senate delegation. Without effective political competition to keep the mono-party honest, both governance and its defenses will be increasingly hackish.

Newsom's political action committee characterized the 2 million Californians who signed his recall petition as "a partisan, Republican coalition of national Republicans, anti-vaxxers, Q-Anon conspiracy theorists, and anti-immigrant Trump supporters." To which we can hope to add the phrase who fired you.

NEXT: Brickbat: How Much Is That Doggie in the Window?

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  1. California and New York are getting exactly what they voted for.

    1. The best and second best pandemic responses in the country? Yes, I agree.

      #HarrisCuomo2024

      1. How are you quantifying that? I’m particularly curious about New York given the government inflicted disaster in that state.

        Even more so when you compare those two to TX and FL.

        1. Considering you can’t at all trust FL numbers and TX is far, far more spread out than NY where half the entire state lives in just NYC, I think he/she’s not far off. I wouldn’t say the best but they did well enough.

          1. Dummy backing up a parody account.

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          2. “Considering you can’t at all trust FL numbers”

            But shitlunches believes NY, which intentionally suppressed official numbers.

            1. He obeys the collective.

          3. trust the science, bigot.

          4. You are a special type of idiot. You trust dem voting numbers right? But state numbers, that would get more covid funding, you don’t.

            I know doctors in both states, all over those 2 states. The numbers are accurate unlike you.

          5. Why would you think you could trust the NY numbers when they’ve already admitted to changing them?

            What makes the CA numbers inherently trustworthy but the FL numbers not?

        2. OBL posts sarcasm.

          1. Really, he sounds like the most rational progressives I know? (I want to put a /sarc but after typing it really is true regardless of it being a parody)

        3. Ever hear of sarcasm?

    2. California and New York are getting exactly what their ballot printing presses voted for.

  2. Interesting idea but unlikely to succeed. After the recall of Gov. Scott Walker in 2010 the Wisconsin legislature moved to make recalls harder. It is also hard to convince voters that they should turn out a person after they initially elected them. Better strategy is to find a way to hold the anger until the next election and turn the person out then. That is of course hard to do because the public has a notoriously short attention span.

    1. It’s certainly benefitted progressives. So they don’t tend to be held accountable for their evil by their vacuous drones.

    2. So then basically your advice is useless because it assumes a sort of people that doesn’t exist rather than deals with people that do.

      Which, frankly, is par for the course for people who like to have other people told what to do. For their own good, of course.

      1. As I noted initially the idea of recalling is unlikely to succeed.

  3. As a Californian transplanted to New York…

    Questioning the wisdom of someone who left one basket case for a worse basket case

    1. Exactly; not a ringing indication of intellect.

      1. Yeah, everyone in NY is stupid. That’s the ticket.
        Or perhaps there are reasons for living in a particular place besides the quality of the government.

  4. My governor (Missouri) was pretty good. No statewide mask mandates, left it up to local authorities. The only stay-at-home order we got from the state only lasted a couple of weeks and ended over a year ago.

    1. Bingo, it worked there and elsewhere. The wokestapo and maskholes wanted more power, but individuals and states worked against that.

    2. You are praising a dumbass Gov that ordered you to stay home.

  5. Even if the citizens of New York can’t technically recall Emperor Cuomo, the citizens need to go through the motions and collect signatures to recall him any way. Put pressure on the elected officials to change the law that returns the power so the citizens are back in charge.

    I prefer a representative form of government over a pure democracy (mob rule), but there needs to be check and balances to ensure that the representatives actually represent the interest of the citizens. This appears to have fallen short and governors have seized the opportunity to assume authoritarian powers.

    These authoritarian governors and others in power who have betrayed the trust of the citizens, need to be sent packing. They are tyrants at best and should NEVER be trusted again.

    1. Nah. Those governors need to be *picked up and carried out and thrown over the state line*.

      Sometimes a more visceral response is needed instead of a coldly rational election.

  6. Why are we still comparing Florida?

    It’s plainly obvious to anybody with a hint of sense that fuckface Desantis screwed with the numbers. FFS, he sent agents to raid the home of someone who was trying to get out accurate numbers.

    Do we take China’s numbers at face value now too Reason? Come the fuck on.

    1. Maybe Trump’s tax returns are hiding the smoking gun!

    2. I bet you think we should only trust certain things.
      The things you like.

    3. They are far mor trust worthy than California or New York. NY literally had an assistant to the mayor talk about how they lied about the numbers. Spoiler alert not a single one of these criminals have been arrested

    4. Fucking TDS shithead posts some bullshit, but we all know she’s a leftie piece of garbage and is going to lose her mind in 2022.

    5. “It’s plainly obvious to anybody with a hint of sense that fuckface Desantis screwed with the numbers.”

      Translated from proggy:
      “I’m a fucking lefty ignoramus, so you shouldn’t believe what I don’t like!”

    6. Yes, and we should totally believe the word of a fabulist with delusions of grandeur. Why, how could anybody possibly doubt her?

    7. Yet there was not a smidgen of fraud in the 2020 election.

    8. Ahh I love how liberals so their maturity by cursing. It’s so cute.

      Notice you don’t hear about that ‘person’ anymore. It was found our her story was a lie. Don’t let facts get in your way

  7. With a brazenness only a politician or actor could summon, Newsom is defending his anti-scientific record on scientific grounds. “From the earliest days of the pandemic,” he said in his Dodger Stadium speech, eyes shining with pride, “California trusted in science and data.”

    These clowns should be challenged with the old school dictum: “SHOW YOUR WORK!”

  8. I’ve made mistakes. But we own them, learn from them, and never stop trying…”

    “…to control every aspect of people’s lives.”

  9. It’s a good thing that it’s very difficult for Newsom and Cuomo to have a lovechild. Liberals would elect it while it was still in diapers.

  10. It might be even easier if racist judges weren’t imposing far more stringent ID requirements on petition signatures than on actual votes.

  11. Fire governors? Like, burn them at the stake? I like the way you think, Welch.

  12. One of the great mysteries of our time will be how Jay Inslee ‘won’ re-election.

    1. They kept Counting All The Votes until they got the Proper Outcome.

  13. In 30 of the 50 states, the same party that received the 2020 presidential vote also currently controls the governorship, the legislature, and the U.S. Senate delegation.
    Wait What?
    GOP controls both state legislative chambers in 32 states.
    GOP controls both state legislative and Governorship in 22 states.
    DNC controls both state legislative and Governorship in 15 states.
    Did I misread that statement?

    1. I.e. in NJ, CA, and NY the D’s control the Governorship, both houses of the legislature, both Senate seats, and gave their votes to Biden; in Texas and others it’s the same deal with the opposite party.

      I have no idea if Welch’s counts are correct, but by your numbers there’s an upper limit of 37 states that could satisfy each of these.

  14. If you give a legion of royalists a means of removing the king they put on the throne, they’ll ignore it 99% of the time.

    The Newsom recall is a plurality trying to correct the mistake of the majority. As recently as last summer, polls found that more than 80% of the CA voters strongly approved of restrictive lockdowns. Of course they violated it when they felt like it, as evidenced by the fourth of July fireworks extravaganza and large family gatherings.

    Newsom is only a symptom of a larger disease. Most of CA electorate and government are not responsible people. You don’t expect irresponsible people to do the right thing. After having assuredly killed more POCs than any white supremacy in existence, Cuomo got a mild rebuke and a pass from the liberal horde because he’s one of them. And they lecture the MAGA crowd on principles.

    And the legion of uninformed voters in CA are ready to spread their disease elsewhere at any time.

  15. In the People’s Republic of NJ, Murphy is so bad that he might get voted out this fall, even though Commiecrats outnumber Republicans by a wide margin.

  16. Every state and local official is subject to recall. Somehow, our federal legislators and president are the only ones insulated from this. But, when you have folks in there doing the right thing, as if Republicans still had the White House, Senate, and House, if they’re doing a good job, you don’t want the libtards with cases of major butt-hurt to be able to recall them and throw them out.

    1. Or, maybe you do.

      There’s been tons of R’s at the federal level I’d have liked to recall.

  17. You can fire governors. It’s called an election.

    We’re not debating the wisdom of recalls or referenda here. We’re getting a guy on Team Bad and you’re getting one of your little kid boners over it.

    Republicans wouldn’t accept an actual election loss before they tried to keep the most incompetent human being to ever live in office. This isn’t about any principles.

    1. So, we’re having an election.

      And you’re still whining about it.

      Because its never about the people with you – its always about defending power. You whine that Republicans are just targeting a guy on Team Bad – and your response is that people on your team should just be immune from targeting altogether.

      And, you know, if he did his job right – he wouldn’t be touchable. CA is a dark blue state. They have a blue supermajority everywhere. And yet, somehow, these red minorities are able to get enough signatures to force a recall.

      I wonder how that happens.

      1. We have governors who deserve to be shot for treason before I give a crap about Gavin Newsom’s alleged bad job managing the Trump pandemic.

  18. I think we should have a rule that anyone with too good hair or who wears pinstripes should be forbidden from public office.

    Public employment even.

    1. If your look makes people think of Gordon Gecko or Patrick Bateman then you’re automatically disqualified.

      And yes, I’m willing to allow generous leeway on what ‘looks like’ counts.

      1. I have a theory that people look like what they are. Matt Gaetz? Looks like a kiddie-fucking frat douche. Donald Trump? Looks like a giant festering pimple in love with itself and its daughter.

        Newsom just looks like a guy who has been running for president since the womb.

  19. Be careful about who you put in charge of Gov-Guns. Always remember; The government only exists because; and IS *force*; by the threat of Gov-Guns.

    So if you don’t think people should be shot for defying the politicians plans of utopian idealism; then you shouldn’t be voting or supporting them whether you agree with the plan or not.

    Gov-Guns have a purpose but that purpose isn’t to *force* citizens to follow a ‘good’ plan. Those guns are for Individual Justice. To keep crooks from robbing you blind.

    The horror of the state of this union is the Gov-Guns are doing the robbing and all manners of dictation and crimes against individuals — that IS the MISTAKE.

    1. You could just simplify matters and say your preferred government policy portfolio includes armed forces and police and nothing else.

      That’s a plan of sorts, just not one that’s ever going to be chosen by people who get to freely vote on the matter.

      1. Go defy politicians “plans” and see what happens.

        1. Do you mean laws?

          1. Passed Politicians “Plans” = Law.

  20. I prefer a representative form of government over a pure democracy (mob rule), but there needs to be check and balances to ensure that the representatives actually represent the interest of the citizens. This appears to have fallen short and governors have seized the opportunity to assume authoritarian powers.

    These authoritarian governors and others in power who have betrayed the trust of the citizens, need to be sent packing. They are
    https://www.wapexclusive.com ,tyrants at best and should NEVER be trusted again.

    1. Or perhaps, “betrayed the trust of the citizens” = “betrayed the peoples law over their government”… The U.S. Constitution at the federal level.

      I believe the founding fathers knew all-too-well about the human corruption and crook-ery that grows endlessly (the swamp) in a limitless use of Gov-Gun power. As such insisted that the Supreme Law be a document and not politicians which is suppose to have checks and balances.

      Sadly; Way too-many politicians and citizens have been indoctrinated into believing the center of the USA is about “mob rule” democracy electing a bound-by-nothing mob ruler/dictator and every blind-eye ignorance shown towards the USA ( The U.S. Constitution ) turns the USA into a country being taken over by a foreign entity/structure.

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