Gavin Newsom’s political legacy has survived for the time being. Despite significant success for the California Republican Party early on in the recall effort, anger towards the governor has subsided enough to let the state return to business as usual as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to rage on. This reality has brought Californians back to the state of affairs it saw before the recall effort; local health officials issuing top-down orders for everyone else to follow.
Business (or No Business) As Usual
The day after the recall effort was defeated, Los Angeles County began planning a new health order requiring proof of vaccination for entrance to various nightlife establishments. Bars, breweries, nightclubs, wineries, and even large outdoor sporting events and theme parks would now be forced to require vaccinations from patrons and employees, despite some of these venues already having their own requirements in place. While the rules for indoor venues are certainly more understandable, L.A. County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer continues to contradict CDC guidelines by baselessly asserting that large outdoor gatherings enable “tons of exposure” to the coronavirus.
Larry Elder’s absolute implosion in the recall has essentially given the green light to local bureaucrats to continue signing off on lockdowns and health ordinances with no basis in science. These same bureaucrats continue to issue various mandates that, so far, have only resulted in California topping the charts in COVID-19 deaths within the United States. Throughout the rest of the country, Democratic politicians and pundits have been more concerned with the death counts in places like Florida, a state with the sixth-highest median age of residents. Compare that to California’s abysmal performance with the fifth-youngest population across the country despite the endless health restrictions enacted since the start of the pandemic.
Heading into his 2022 reelection campaign, Gavin Newsom’s fate rests in his handling of the pandemic over the next year. Despite the recent rise in his overall approval ratings leading up to the recall election, his failures with the homeless crisis, wildfires, affordable housing, and tax policy remain the most critical issues in voters’ minds. Without a Republican president to blame, the governor’s only course of action towards favorable ratings on his COVID-19 policies lie in the abstract, failed health ordinances being pushed by lifelong bureaucrats invigorated by their newfound powers.
For many California residents, the biggest disappointment in the recall effort’s failure will undoubtedly be the return of ineffective health guidelines disproportionately impacting the lives of middle and working-class people while the elites in Silicon Valley and Hollywood continue to boast of their successes. The only consolation to their economic anxieties will lie in editorials from The Los Angeles Times congratulating the governor for leading a recovery experienced only by the wealthy. Images of Gavin Newsom sitting maskless at thousand-dollar dinners with lobbyists may have escaped the minds of voters on September 14. Still, they may not be forgotten by future voters when it comes to the state’s next gubernatorial election.
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