Some elections are stark ideological divides that define a generation, others are stark ideological contests that may as well be a fart in the wind. The race for California’s Governor is most definitely the latter.
In any rational world this should be an exciting and impactful race. The winner will lead the 5th largest economy in the world, home to multiple world class cities, breadbasket of the world, shipping capital of the nation, headquarters of the world’s most valuable company, land of film, television, and all forms of consumable media. And yet this race is a low voltage affair.
For the Democrats we have Gavin Newsom, current Lieutenant Governor and former Mayor of San Francisco. For the Republicans we have John Cox, lawyer, equity manager, and perennial losing candidate. (Look: that sounds harsh, but I’ll elaborate later, he has lost an astounding number of elections.)
I could really just leave it there: Newsom likes things that Democrats like and Cox likes things that Republicans like. Neither of them is taking a chance, neither of them is doing anything resonant. When you go to the polls vote for Newsom, it’s the most boring no-brainer ever.
But for anyone interested in learning a bit more, 1’s and 0’s are cheap and I’ve done the research.
The biggest reason I am not endorsing John Cox is because the man is terrible. He’s a billionaire and you should never vote for a billionaire. We have plenty of them in California as it is and we don’t need Mr. Musk thinking that he can win an election. Cox has shown himself to be a dedicated candidate, and by that I mean he has dedicated time, money, and energy to consistently losing elections every two years for nearly the last two decades.
Since 2000 he has run for Congress (IL), Senate (IL), Cook County Recorder of Deeds (IL), and President; losing every single race. He then transitioned to trying to pass ballot initiatives, including the Neighborhood Legislature initiative which would have increased the number of local representatives from 120 to 12,000 while slashing the legislature’s budget by 1/3 and capping legislators’ salaries. It failed to make the ballot 3 times. After that he attempted to get the California is Not For Sale initiative on the ballot.
See this photo? He wanted to make that real, no I’m serious, he must’ve spent millions on signature gathering and publicity. It also failed to make the ballot.
Finally in 2017 John Cox struck gold earning the votes of 55% of the Republican party membership to win that nomination and coming in 2nd in the June 2018 primary. Newsom won the primary with 33.8% of the vote, Cox garnered 26.2%, and Villaraigosa brought in 13.2%. Since then it’s really just been the same race that we are conditioned to expect.
Newsom’s campaign website is a slickly designed wall of text that says literally nothing. It just a Madlib of buzzwords about innovation, unleashing this, and overlaying that. There are no hard numbers or actual plans, just hip restatements of what’s been going on under Brown. He wants to build a lean but robust societal network, most rational countries do that by creating efficient tax systems, but until Prop 13 is repealed we’ll be stuck balancing between regressive taxation and negotiating with the millionaires. Newsom will just bring us more of Brown’s agenda: privatization, corporate leadership, and “progressive” centrism. I mean a truly smart politician would be working to tax his opponent back in to the nine-figures, instead Newsom seems committed to the Democratic alliance with the wealthiest Californians. But so what? California burned under Brown and Newsom’s leadership, it’ll burn worse under Cox.
We can’t expect Newsom to be more than the guy who’s first business was supported by Getty money. Gavin won’t save us. The best we can hope for is someone who isn’t an impediment. Elected politicians are a battlefield, the point is to get someone elected who is movable, someone that can be brought closer into alignment with our objectives. Newsom can probably be pushed a bit further left, Cox can’t.
Cox has come out against the gas tax and tried to cast himself as a populist. His ads ring so oddly self satirizing, the narrator tells us about how he understands the struggles of everyday Californians, that he wants to help by relieving their burdens. What he actually wants to say is that you can have relief if you are already rich, everyone else will just have to do more with less. Under a Cox administration we would see cuts to social services, fewer tenant protections, and more capitulation with Trump’s agenda.
We’re not relitigating 2016, neither of these men has the charisma. But we are seeing some parallels. While Newsom and his luxuriously quaffed hair spill out empty buzzwords, Cox is trying to be the poor man’s rich man. It’s all boring and stupid and we should have better choices, but we don’t. So on November 6th vote for Newsom, sigh a bit, and then get ready to pounce on him as soon as he takes the oath.