In California, members of quite a number of socialist-minded groups usually register to vote in the Peace and Freedom Party, and members of a number of groups have run as Peace and Freedom Party candidates for office.
The Freedom Socialist Party (FSP) is one group that often endorses Peace and Freedom Party candidates. A message from the FSP urging opposition to the recall hits a lot of points that other groups have been making. I think it is worthwhile to repeat their message here. (Three paragraphs discussing various replacement candidates but offering no endorsement of any candidate have been omitted.)
Please review this, and statements by other Left groups, before you vote – and vote NO on the Newsom recall.
State Chair, Peace and Freedom Party
Vote NO on the 2021 California Gubernatorial Recall
the Freedom Socialist Party Statement
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 percentage!).
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.
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.