And it only cost $276 million.
The good thing about the Republican attempt to recall the California governor for no actual reason other than they're unhappy they lost in 2018 is that it makes clear their effort was fascist, irresponsible and phenomenally costly. And it was clearly so fascist, irresponsible and phenomenally costly that it will be remembered for a very long time.
And yes, it was a fascist attempt, because one of the tenets of fascism is to try and undermine centers of power, creating mistrust in them, so that a strongman can come in to power. And this was nothing more than an effort to overthrow a fair election and distrust democracy. Worse, days before the election, Republicans already began trying to push that the election was supposedly rigged.
And then reality set in. At the time of writing -- 10:30 PM, California time -- 66% of the votes are in, and the recall effort is not only failing by 66-34%, but it was called for "No" to the recall by all news channels long ago. [UPDATE: At 7:30 AM, with 70% of the votes in, it's 64-36%.]
It’s losing by 33%!! That number will come down, but at a bare minimum the recall will fail by 20 points, perhaps even 25 points. (And who knows, it could even be higher at the end, but I’m just being conservative in my assumptions.) Even at just 20 points, that’s massive. In fact, that would be close to the 62-38% margin Gov. Newsom won by in 2018. To fix an election with that huge a margin, you’d need rigging that would bewilder magician David Copperfield.
And the big problem for Republicans with this is how utterly foolish it makes them look. Not just massively foolish in losing this recall election by so much (though it does that), but otherworldly foolish in the long-term the next time Republicans try to claim an election was rigged. Because (especially with a margin this huge) it risks turning the cry of "rigged" into becoming just white noise, knee-jerk meaningless, nothing more than a Republican slogan, with a weeping tear as the logo.
And what will be remembered, too, is that Republicans forced a state to spend $276 million – a quarter of a billion dollars – trying to undermine a fair election in order to overthrow democracy by claiming a governor should be removed from office…and being crushed in the process.
This was a truly horrible process. Happily, there are a few good things to come from it:
It made the Democratic Party in California even more united and stronger and vigilant in knowing what they have opposing them in the GOP. Indeed, it likely helped the National Democratic Party for the same reasons.
It showed the general public even further how fascist the Republican Party had become, with one more attempt to undermine the democratic election process.
It emphasized public support for health measures and mandates.
It solidified that Newsom will likely win re-election in 2022. In fact, his only hurdle will be if he's challenged in the Democratic Party -- but even that will now be a high fence to get over. After all, he was vetted strongly at his "worst," allowing people to vote for him twice. Moreover, he now has $24 million leftover in his campaign chest from money raised for the recall. Along with a new team of volunteers.
And it probably ensured that California’s truly horrific recall law will be changed – hopefully significantly, but even at worst, it critically important small ways – like increasing the number of signatures required to force a recall, requiring a serious reason for qualifying there be a recall, and determining who the replacement would be if a governor is recalled, like perhaps it being the Lieutenant Governor.
And it all cost only $276 million.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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