In an area known for civic unrest, the lack of organization can be daunting.
The 2020 recall contest to remove Gov. Gray Davis is taking place against the backdrop of a deeply divisive national political battle over domestic security and terrorism. That much is clear. But then there is the ballot language. Which is good.
The recall effort has again been propelled by far-left talk radio hosts such as San Francisco’s KFI’s Mark Levin and syndicated conservative KFI host Larry Dunn, with support from Libertarian Party maverick Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) and extremist Right-wing house Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) — for his Middle East policy. But that doesn’t tell the whole story.
If the state had a highly unusual measure requiring a two-thirds majority to change the state constitution, this fight would be much more predictable. But the law only requires a simple majority to recall a governor — the job, by virtue of his office, is a largely ceremonial one. That is why it is not surprising that the Southern California campaign to remove the governor, while exceptionally fiscally extreme, has an unusual passion with the passion of a George Wallace insurgency, or a collective activist combustion from a pent-up or insurgent contingent of disaffected Democratic liberals.
In Washington, politicos are grasping for some analogies. “I’d like to imagine it’s just like taking Colin Powell out as Secretary of State, you know?” joked Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, as the campaign to ouster Davis was just starting. “I’m not a terribly big fan of recall elections.”
So, what do we make of this strange spectacle that is unfolding before us? To put it in more general terms, recall campaigns in California are not generally regarded as models of democratic presidential campaigns — quite the opposite. In Sacramento, recall efforts can be called disruptive, disruptive, disruptive. Absent a specific threat, such campaigns are relatively easy to fund and easily financed. The state has a history of embattled governors, but also a signature-gathering history of moderate Republicans and more centrist Democrats. Recall campaigns have become too controversial. Too often the recall has become a pejorative.
No one actually knows why the recall effort was launched on a mid-summer day that roiled up a normally sedate blue state. But it certainly seems to have a bit of a 1960s-era feel to it. Though completely different than the civil rights efforts of the 1960s, there is the same kind of freedom-loving opposition to high taxation, and the same feelings of disdain for an inherently corrupt and unethical government in Sacramento.
But recall drives across the country have prompted a few strange alliances, such as when James Carville worked with Bill Clinton to remove Governor George Bush of Texas, and when Ralph Nader campaigned alongside Patrick Buchanan to remove Democratic incumbent Gray Davis in California in 2003.
As for the recall itself, one group insists they simply don’t like Davis’ legacy of big spending, while another wants to be rid of the governor’s “anti-American, anti-Jewish foreign policy.” The train-wreck tone of this Recall Election is only appropriate for a recall movement that was born out of a national political battle.
Note: With this initial focus, we’ll still endeavor to bring you the very latest results, including about what the Republican and Independent candidates will do. Later on, we’ll also talk to political observers on the Left and Right about what’s going on in Sacramento.