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California is Not a Liberal Promised Land


On September 14, 2021, Californians voted on whether or not to recall Governor Gavin Newsom. A recall election in California happens when 12% of California’s population from five counties signed to put to a vote for the governor to be removed from office. Only 1.49 million residents out of 40 million were needed to make the recall happen. The recall received 1.7 million supporters. There has been a recall attempt on every California governor. In 2003, Governor Gray Davis was successfully removed from office after a recall election. He was succeeded by Arnold Schwarzenegger. 

Many California residents did not like the mask mandate. Farmworkers were being affected by consistent wildfires destroying the land. Gas prices are astronomical. Unhoused people are throughout the state with dire mental health needs. There was also Governor Newsom visiting French Laundry, a restaurant, with lobbyists during a global pandemic where he was telling residents daily to social distance and wear their mask. While there are reasons why Governor Newsom could be recalled, to do so with one year left in his term was also an irresponsible power grab on behalf of mostly Republicans, as well as Democrats and moderates.

California is progressive. I say California is progressive because many of the residents take action. For example, there are sanctuary cities, abortion rights, and childcare initiatives.That was a talking point as to why Governor Newsom should remain in office and keep the state perpetually blue. There is Hollywood and a continuously booming technology industry, mostly situated in Silicon Valley, both entities which lack liberal values. Governor Newsom also successfully guides the state through a pandemic.

The abortion ban after six weeks put in place in Texas was in full swing as the recall election was happening. This tweet, one of many, was a reason for Californians to vote no on the recall. Much would have been at stake if a Republican was in the Governor’s mansion. Grim threats of “The Handmaid’s Tale” were once again brought to a potential reality. 

However, television, film, and music will make you believe California is a liberal promised land, full of hope, opportunity, and action. The recall election is a reminder that there are conservatives throughout the state. With the election results, they came in droves, voting by ballot and in person. Aside from Los Angeles and The Bay Area, the latter in my opinion is much more liberal and progressive, there are counties that are bright red, representing the more conservative parts of California. 

Georgia, which I believe will become more progressive due to their fervent organizing and educating voters to take power in their push for a better democracy, is a better example of action put into power. The state is mostly red. However, after pushing then Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden to become president and electing two Democrats to the Senate, the state has an incredible momentum leading in the midterm elections in 2022 and beyond. Also, many Hollywood studios film there for cheaper tax credits and to fit studio budgets, bringing a fairly liberal demographic to the state. Many studios have threatened to cease business in the state. Major League Baseball altogether moved the All-Star Game to Colorado in response to heinous Georgia voting laws. I recognize that Texas is not a deep red state. It is a state that is understanding progressive values. 

All of this to say, California is liberal. Being liberal is understanding the plethora of values and opening to new ideas. However, to fashion California as a utopia that is not without conservative values is dangerous. It ignores the swaths of conservative values throughout the state, even as it is fewer than much of the country that is coated in deep red. The recall election where 46 candidates were on the ballot was a revelation of that. 

I am thankful to all the people who voted no on the recall. I am also appalled at the measure to gain power out of spite and rancor. In remembering that California, compared to Mississippi, Alabama, and Arkansas for example, yes it is liberal. However, until the recall election is rectified and hopefully rid of, California is always for the taking, no matter the cost. 

Ashley Paul is a hopeless wanderer, baker, runner, and photographer. She is passionate about supporting high school juniors and seniors to write compelling stories for their post-secondary careers. Her favorite genres are young adult, literary fiction, and memoir.

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