Gov. Gavin Newsom survived the recall election against him in California. Yet he provided no answers for reversing the unsustainable and unacceptable decline of this beautiful state.
Answers were what ordinary Californians deserved.
Though many of these issues predate Newsom, the rising crime and homelessness, the repressive COVID-19 lockdowns, the failure of our public school system, the absurd housing costs, the water shortages and the uncontrollable wildfires are not the result of magical forces. They are the direct consequences of man-made policies.
California's decline can be reversed
If terrible policies can be enacted, they can also be reversed. My fellow Californians are not going to give up on restoring common sense and humanity to their state. The 1.6 million valid voter signatures gathered for the recall and the more than 3 million voters who supported my candidacy did so because they saw that, as bad as things are today, the Golden State can be saved.
Ballots are still being counted, but among the replacement candidates, I received nearly as many votes as the other 45 combined. Preliminary totals show that my campaign won 57 of the 58 counties across the state, narrowly losing San Francisco, where I did not really campaign.
Though the recall came up short, our campaign was the impetus to a new movement that shook the political establishment to its core: Newsom and his allies across the state – and across the country – feared he could lose it all.
So they slandered and smeared the candidate most likely to replace him. Instead of addressing pressing issues facing Californians or defending his record, the Newsom camp caricatured the populist recall effort as a Republican and (even worse) a Trump hostile takeover of a deep blue state.
The week before the election, I visited a homeless encampment. An egg-throwing white woman wearing a gorilla mask tried to attack me. The Los Angeles Times headlined its account of the incident as "altercation involving Larry Elder" – with a photograph that appeared to show me attacking a woman.
In fact, I was hugging a supporter – who contacted the Times to complain, prompting the newspaper to remove the photograph, but not the headline. Imagine the outcry had Sen. Barack Obama, campaigning for president in 2008, been the target of a white woman in a gorilla mask.
Alas, the political landscape in California is daunting for a Republican. Registered Democratic voters now make up 46.5% of the California electorate, nearly twice the 24.1% who are registered Republican voters. Independent voters, who tend to lean left, make up only a slightly smaller share than Republicans.
Leftist policies are ruining California
With such political realities, all California voters and policymakers must realize: If the state continues with its one-party monopoly – an alliance of Big Government, Big Business, Big Labor, Big Tech and Big Media – the exodus of the people who provide the tax base will continue. There will soon be no more wealth, not even a middle class. Californians have the chance to hold the ruling classes accountable and make California a good and safe place to live again. They have the chance to realize that such an effort has nothing to do with party affiliation, and that the political establishment is simply sweeping problems under the rug, including the state’s long-term debt and pension obligations.
I believe that my campaign has provided this chance. In a frenzy of hyperpartisanship and negativity, however, Newsom succeeded with the only strategy that could prevail: Convincing Californians that a candidate who voted for Donald Trump is scarier than the solutions we all deserve.
Newsom now has another chance to make major changes to his disastrous policies – and the news media have another chance to redeem the forsaken public trust. It will be up to Californians to hold them – and the ruling elites – accountable, and to reject a one-party narrative above all else.
My own mission – to turn California back from the brink – is just beginning. My supporters and I sparked a massive grassroots movement. I am not going anywhere – nor are the millions of Californians who, together, will save their state. It’s time for voters to write a new script for the California dream, not abandon it.
Larry Elder was candidate for governor of California. Follow him on Twitter: @larryelder
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Larry Elder: I lost the California recall, but I'm not done fighting