Compared to What?

Elections
California Governor Gavin Newsom speaks at St. Mary’s Center during a “Stop The Recall” rally ahead in Oakland, Calif., September 11, 2021. (Brittany Hosea-Small/Reuters)

You say capitalism is terrible? Okay, compared to what? The United States is systematically racist? Okay, compared to what?

Conservatives got high on our own supply out in California. We neglected to ask, “Compared to what?” It’s pretty easy to make the case that Gavin Newsom is terrible, but compared to what? A recall election that was a referendum on Newsom had a chance to succeed, but, not unreasonably, once the possibility of ejecting Newsom entered the imagination, voters started to wonder who might succeed him. Newsom sucks . . . compared to what? Once Larry Elder became the overwhelming front runner, Newsom was safe. A fire-breathing conservative was not going to win in California, except accidentally, and if Elder had managed to secure the governorship through the recall back door he would immediately have become a lame duck anyway. His every effort would have been stymied by the courts and the legislature until the election next fall, when he would have been succeeded by a liberal Democrat.

Conservative politics in a deep-blue state can’t be just a chest-thumping exercise, a chance to let our collective id out for a roar. It has to persuade the voters, and California conservatives and Republicans had plenty of time to unite behind a more electable candidate than Elder.

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