Don Rogers: Recall would signal course correction

I’m no fan of the recall. Too costly, too close to the next real election, too easy to gather signatures.

But I’m probably going to vote for removing the governor.

The moderate former mayor of San Diego, Kevin Falconer, appeals to me the most of the replacement candidates. I’m a lot less interested in the talk show host now leading the polls, Larry Elder, seeing him as more hot air for the populist balloon. And it goes down from there.

Yet here we are. A chance to check the supermajority progressive direction at last. A shot across the bow if nothing else.

This is my thinking, which has little to do with liking or not liking Gavin Newsom, though it doesn’t help that I don’t. Which, of course, is neither here nor there. The question isn’t whether he’s a great or terrible guy.

More relevant is leadership, a disappointment. But don’t misunderstand. I’m a huge fan of Jerry Brown, both the Moonbeam and the born again fiscal conservative (relatively speaking) versions. I’d choose him again before others, viewing him as generationally gifted.

I didn’t vote for Newsom in 2018, and I’ve seen enough not to consider it now. Still, even that isn’t what weighs most on me. I might like the guy (though I don’t) and admire his leadership (nope) and still vote against him.

No, what I’m thinking most about is an abstraction, the image of a pendulum swinging. Too far left, too far right, crossing a sweet spot in between all too swiftly, and that’s if we’re fortunate.

I think about how the best course of all between these two evils, frankly, has been gridlock, sad as that is. The course of the right toward Hungary is appalling. But no less so is what the progressive supermajority in Sacramento is busy wreaking on California.

Rampant homelessness, the toughest housing issues in the land, the worst business environment, the plumpest bureaucracy, the poverty — this looks like a Soviet path. Progressive politics have made those problems even worse, not better.

The right-wingers aren’t all that wrong chafing under central control of lockdowns and ever-changing criteria for tiers of COVID restrictions that — maybe you haven’t noticed — in the end went largely ignored. For all that Californians have gotten sick at the same pace as the national average, one person of every nine. Nevada County is running at one of every 15, by comparison.

The state is buoyed by Hollywood, Silicon Valley and the Central Valley, breadbasket to a nation and world. But the economy, No. 5 if a nation though it may be, shows fraying as people who don’t know better and politicians who should seem intent on pulling it apart. We’re racing toward a reckoning, I fear, mainly through hubris and a whole lot of political groupthink that just isn’t healthy.


What does California need? Besides avoiding sinking under the state pension load? Squandering a full spigot of tax revenue, running low on water, widening the gulf between the very wealthy and the masses?

Some talk of PG&E favoritism and wildfire in the same breath. Or of the unemployment scandal and mismanagement of the pandemic.

I’ll acknowledge I don’t like my tax rebate going to undeserving others in what sure feels like a blunt bid to buy votes, but that is a minor gripe. While I made a lot less in the struggle to keep our business afloat, I never faced eviction, either. The bigger issue there concerns the resulting inflation from progressive decision-making and people being paid not to work just when they are needed most in the … workplace.

California needs homes, and less expensive ones. California needs businesses to be successful and citizens healthy, safe, educated and productive.

I don’t know that all this can be laid on one governor. That’s not entirely fair. So I think more about what this one represents, and about signals for the future. Can we head off the train wreck the current Democratic machine is roaring us toward?

But it’s not even that, really. A Republican supermajority might be even worse, given that principled Republicans have stepped away and/or the populists shoved them out.

Ah, populists vs. progressives — not a pretty choice. I like to think the vast bulk of us are neither, if a little to the right or a little to the left.

A vote is a small thing, alone. I’m waving mine as a flag or to pull the cord in a locomotive car. I object to the track we’re on even if also totally against the alternative offered now. I want the conductors to know, and for all of us to reconsider. There has to be a better way or at least better courses. This one looks headed to bad end.

We should have saved the expense, sure, but now a recall would be a terrible thing to waste.

Don Rogers is the publisher of the Sierra Sun and The Union, based in Grass Valley. He can be reached at or 530-477-4299

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