The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

Behind California Governor Newsom’s Supposed Landslide

Sep 27, 2021

California voters rejected a Republican-led attempt to oust Gavin Newsom, the Democratic Party governor, in a special recall election on September 15 by a very wide margin.

For Newsom, the key to victory was the specter of Donald Trump.

“You either keep Gavin Newsom as your governor or you’ll get Donald Trump,” President Joe Biden said at an election-eve rally in Long Beach. Biden was just echoing what Newsom and his allies had been saying for weeks: Gavin Newsom was the only person who stood in the way of a takeover of the highest office in California by the far right.

The Democrats blanketed the air waves with this message paid for largely by a dozen of the Democrats’ billionaire buddies, including Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, Stuart and Lynda Resnick (the biggest landowners in California), George Soros, Google’s Eric Schmidt, and Laurene Powell Jobs (Steve Jobs’s widow).

In a state in which registered Democratic voters outnumber Republicans by a two-to-one margin, it finally spurred enough Democrats to bother to vote against the recall in the home stretch of the final days of the election.

Certainly, Newsom could not run on his policies and record as governor and expect to win. Since he took office three years ago, Newsom and the Democrats have presided over a true disaster for big parts of the working population, including the murderous rates of COVID disease and death amongst essential workers, the increasingly disastrous levels of unemployment and homelessness, and the crippled social services that collapsed in the face of all these disasters, leaving big parts of the population high and dry. And since the Democrats completely dominate state politics, holding every important state-wide office that includes a super-majority in the two houses of the state legislature, they don’t even have the Republicans to blame.

The Republicans might have tried to jump-start their long-shot recall campaign with the video and pictures of Newsom right before last Thanksgiving, having dinner with a dozen wealthy friends at the extremely expensive and snobby French Laundry Restaurant and not even wearing a mask, at the same time he was ordering ordinary people to spend the holidays in isolation. But those pictures from the French Laundry also struck a nerve for ordinary people, symbolizing what the Democratic Party really is, a party for the rich that is currently personified by Newsom himself, a multimillionaire Napa Valley winery owner with deep ties to the California corporate elite.

It is an illusion and a trap to believe that Newsom and the Democrats are any kind of protection against politicians like Trump and the extreme right wing. On the contrary, the sacrifices that he and the Democrats impose on the working population in the interests of the capitalist class leads to ever more demoralization and disorientation that the extreme-right wing and other demagogues then take advantage of.