The recall election should matter to California college students

A drawing of a voting box with a picture of the state of California on the front and pieces of paper with virus drawings floating above the box.
(Iris Leung | Daily Trojan)

The 2018 election in California was nothing short of predictable. John Cox, a Republican businessman, lost by approximately three million votes to former Democratic mayor of San Francisco and then-Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom. Californians voted, the results were what they had expected and life went on. 

Then the coronavirus pandemic hit. Gov. Newsom was the first United States governor to instate a stay-at-home order on March 19, 2020.  He also declared a state of emergency and worked to pass pandemic financial relief in the form of stimulus checks. The campaign to recall him had already begun, and disgruntled Republicans were further motivated to strengthen this effort by targeting Newsom’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic. 

By using inflammatory language similar to that used by former President Donald Trump, this ridiculous campaign gained notoriety. Proponents of the recall complain that Newsom’s actions ruined businesses and exemplified government overreach, among other reasons. They also used coded language such as, “Funding Illegal Alien owned businesses in the amount of $50 Million because CA received federal funding for the Covid-19/Corona Virus.” This quote comes directly from the “Recall Gavin 2020” website. It makes the unbacked claim that Newsom gave money to immigrant-owned businesses but calls said immigrants “illegal,” paying homage to Trump’s xenophobic language.

Compared to the 2020 Presidential Election, this recall election may not be receiving the same attention and care from young people, but in many senses — particularly those related to coronavirus — it is just as important and warrants more concern.

The frontrunner who could potentially replace Newsom is pro-Trump, libertarian talk show host Larry Elder, who plans on repealing vaccine and mask mandates on his first day in office. This is not to discount his other dangerous ideas, such as that women should tolerate sexual harassment from men in the workplace and that employers should be able to ask women if they plan on starting a family. 

While these comments should certainly be enough to encourage college students to vote, it is unrealistic to expect college students in California to be directly involved in election efforts in addition to their busy academic schedules because these beliefs may not directly impact their daily lives. 

This recall election has the potential to not only upend our daily lives in this uncertain time but also have a potentially negative impact on our college careers, which have already been plagued by a year and a half of Zoom lectures and boring weekends. 

Without mask mandates — especially for indoor establishments — and vaccine requirements, cases will inevitably rise. This means a new, potentially more dangerous variant could appear, and colleges, including USC, will have to adapt to these changing conditions. 

We do not want to go back to Zoom lectures or virtual football games. Our state has come so far, and we must maintain this momentum with a governor who listens to science. Newsom may not be perfect, but he is our best shot at defeating this pandemic and avoiding hospital overcrowding. Moreover, he will be up for re-election in 2022, and if you still dislike him, you can vote him out then, rather than during a poorly orchestrated recall election that has cost taxpayers millions of dollars. 

Additionally, our concerns should go beyond coronavirus, as Elder said he supports a $0 minimum wage and does not see racism as a relevant issue in the U.S. It may go without saying, but both of these platforms would affect us as college students as we try to make ends meet and create a more equitable world.

The recall election officially takes place on Sept. 14, but mail-in ballots have already been sent to all registered voters at their registered addresses. Early voting information and drop-off box locations can both be accessed on the California Secretary of State’s government website. 

Voting is always important, and this election is no exception. There are reasons to be upset with our democratic process, where moderate candidates often overshadow progressive ones and change is more incremental than it should be. President Joe Biden is a perfect example, as he was arguably the most moderate democratic candidate in the 2020 primaries and does not support certain progressive initiatives such as the Green New Deal. 

While the issues with our democracy should not be ignored, we will only get further from a more equitable democracy if we allow a pro-Trump governor to gain jurisdiction over our state.