Polls of likely voters show that the election to recall the Governor is dangerously close. If the recall succeeds, the new governor will be the replacement candidate with the most votes. Currently, that is talk show host Larry Elder, whose level of support is 21%.
So the chief executive of the world’s fifth-largest economy could be a talk show host supported by fewer than 1 in 4 voters. This is a failure of democracy and a disaster for sustainable transportation. And, yes, it’s a threat to our goals for more equitable, healthier, and joyful communities through bicycling.
How did we get here?
Newsom, who enjoyed a strong lead in polling earlier in the year, is in trouble now for two reasons. First, many voters are likely to forget to vote. This election is not getting the attention of a regular presidential election.
The second is that many voters are disgusted with the “system” and see a chance to “throw the bums out”—an attitude that the recall proponents are exploiting.
How do we respond to this threat?
- Don’t forget to vote. Fortunately, every voter in California, by now, has received a ballot in the mail. Send in your ballot NOW.
- Work with us to fix the system. Yes, our “democratic system” is not very good at reflecting the will of the people. We know that a substantial majority of people want livable communities where biking and walking are great choices to get around. Still, powerful forces defending the auto-dependent status quo make it hard for our elected representatives to make those changes. We can fix that with reforms to get oil money out of politics. CalBike has worked to change how our officials are selected, to be more small-d democratic. We will do more.
Recalling the governor through this election does not fix the system. It breaks it further.
If you’re frustrated because you keep getting flat tires, the answer is not to take a sledgehammer to your wheel in frustration. The answer is to get a new tire, install a flat prevention strip inside your wheel, or buy flat-free tires like the ones on bike-share bikes.
A low-turnout, off-cycle election where the candidate with a small minority of votes (but still a plurality) gets to wield executive power in California is a worse failure of democracy than what we’re living with now.
The recall is a sledgehammer. Whoever replaces Newsom will have won with a tiny minority of voter support. That person will stymie CalBike’s efforts to implement a more equitable transportation system where people have a reasonably safe and convenient choice to use a bicycle for their trips.
Don’t let a small elite manipulate California’s recall process. That will empower the oil and car lobbies to increase our dependence on automobiles, limit our choices for transportation, and continue to poison our air and water for their short-term profits.