The latest polls show that the Democratic governor of California Gavin Newsom could be removed from office in less than three weeks. Black Americans that don’t live in the state that has the largest population and with a $3.3 trillion gross state product and the world’s fifth largest economy should nevertheless be deeply concerned and aware of the importance of the outcome of this peculiar election.
The wrong outcome of this race could be a real threat to the passage of some of the proposed Democratic national policies, which would directly, positively impact the daily lives, livelihood and well-being of millions of Black Americans.
The removal of the incumbent Democratic governor of the blue mega state, by a right-wing former president Donald J. Trump-supporting Republican would energize Republicans everywhere and embolden them as they seek to recapture control of the Congress next year and the presidency in 2024. If Republicans are successful in California, it would create a far-reaching detriment to the future aspirations of Black America.
There is a perception in the state among many Blacks that California Democrats, including Newsom, take their votes for granted and shut them out from decision making about legislation and initiatives (even though many of the initiatives benefit the poor and minorities). That dynamic is important because under California’s recall system, Newsom could be unseated unless he gets support of at least half the votes cast and he would be replaced by the next candidate with the most votes, no matter how few the number is.
Newsom’s defeat would create the possibility that the progressive legislative programs that Congressional Democrats are pursuing in a 50-50 Senate, which already requires the vote of Vice President Kamala Harris to get progressive laws passed, could stall. Passage of these laws being debated in the Senate would be jeopardized if an aging and increasingly frail 88-year-old Senator Diane Feinstein would become unable to serve. If that happens, she would certainly be promptly replaced by a conservative Republican and lead to a Republican majority, that would end Democratic control of the chamber.
Remember the dire consequences for Black Americans when a Republican-controlled Senate denied an appointment to the Supreme Court by then-President Barack Obama, and the subsequent death of a very ill Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg allowed Trump and a Republican Senate to appoint still another Supreme Court Justice.
Control of the Senate will determine the fate of the huge $3.5 trillion Democratic budget bill that is expected to include universal preschool, paid family leave, federal support for child care and elder care, expansion of Medicare and tax increases for wealthy people and corporations. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi warns that, “We must not squander our Congressional Democratic Majorities and jeopardize the once-in-a-generation opportunity to create historic change to meet the needs of working families.”
This upcoming recall election on September 14, in California, is a stark reminder of how important it is that Black America become and remain more informed and engaged.
Next year will see several highly-contested races for control of Congress and none more important than incumbent Rev. Raphael Warnock’s Senate race for re-election (he is running for a full six-year term) and Congresswoman Val Demings in Florida. Recent polls showed her within two points of the current incumbent, Senator Marco Rubio. These races should be viewed as the California recall election— as national fights critically important to all of Black America and its institutions and supporters. They warrant the full force of our collective human and financial resources. If we fail to mobilize more effectively our large numerical base, financial and political power, it will be to our collective detriment and even peril.