Gird your loins and grab your betting guides: there is to be a California recall election!
Angry Golden Staters have gathered enough signatures to trigger a recall of Gov. Gavin Newsom, who was last spotted managing California’s pandemic response from table 14 at the French Laundry, which incidentally would like another recommendation from the sommelier whenever she gets the chance. Among those who have entered the race to replace him is Caitlyn Jenner. The trans woman and former reality TV star is also a libertarian Republican who for a time even had nice things to say about Donald Trump.
Now she wants to be the next governor of California. And right on, I say. The last gubernatorial recall there was won by a bodybuilder best known for playing a robot who tried to enable the extinction of the human race; surely this one has room for a Keeping Up With the Kardashians regular.
The first reason to get excited about Jenner is that all of us as Americans have an obligation to make this election as wildly entertaining as possible. California gubernatorial recalls only come along so often — the last one was all the way back in 2003 — a function of the high number of signatures needed to trigger an election. Yet once that election is set, the bar to register as a candidate is wonderfully low. In order to run, you need only pay $4,000 or gather 7,000 signatures. The result 18 years ago was a madcap rainbow coalition of contenders, from porn star Mary Carey to child actor Gary Coleman to web mogul Arianna Huffington to, of course, the Terminator in the flesh.
California recalls are that rarest of things even in the United States, a spectacle of untrammeled bandstand democracy. Which is to say, this is not a drill, people. This campaign needs to make Edmund Burke spin in his grave like a pinwheel. We need adult entertainers. We need former circus acts. We need dotty old billionaires who think the Department of Agriculture is beaming plans for communist land reform into their metal replacement hips. And if a candidate offers a chance to infuse the race with a little Kardashian drama, then by all means, get that girl a microphone and turn it up to 11.
Ultimately the odds of Newsom being recalled from office are very slim. A majority of voters say they want him to stay, and there are far fewer registered Republicans in California now than there were in 2003. Therein a second reason to support Jenner. If the GOP is going to lose, they may as well make the woke squirm as much as possible on the way down. And no one is better positioned to inflame the space between left-wing identity politics and reality than is Jenner.
Jenner, after all, isn’t just trans, but the most recognizable trans woman on earth. Yet she’s also a longtime Republican. For normal people, that’s hardly difficult to comprehend: sometimes those whose causes you support disagree with you on other matters. But for the hateful fanatics currently at the helm of the political left, dissent is not to be tolerated. Trans lives matter — so long as they don’t go questioning the Green New Deal or abortion on demand or stimulus spending or mask mandates or the bingeworthiness of Bridgerton. The California recall is threatening to pit Caitlyn Jenner, a trans Republican, against the whitest liberal this side of a Carnegie Hill Black Lives Matter meeting. That’s going to set off coast-to-coast woke aneurysms to the tune of the 1812 Overture. And I am so here for it.
The third reason to support Jenner is simply that what she’s said so far has made a lot of sense. ‘For the past decade,’ Jenner declared in a news release, ‘we have seen the glimmer of the Golden State reduced by one-party rule that places politics over progress and special interests over people.’ Her chronology is a bit off there — California has been ailing for far longer than a decade — but overall, not bad. ‘Small businesses have been devastated because of the over-restrictive lockdown. An entire generation of children have lost a year of education and have been prevented from going back to school, participating in activities, or socializing with their friends.’ Yes and yes.
And after Joy Behar, the co-host of The View, repeatedly referred to Jenner as a ‘he’, Jenner tweeted in response, ‘I’m not about cancel culture. I know where your heart is. California has bigger issues than pronouns.’ How…refreshingly sensible and generous.
Celebrity candidates sometimes get sidetracked by personal scandals or ego-driven petty dramas. Witness the allegations of womanizing against Schwarzenegger in 2003; witness too the entire existence of Donald Trump. And certainly it isn’t unthinkable that the materfamilias of the Kardashian brood will fall into the same trap. We should also note that Jenner is not the only Republican who plans to challenge Newsom. Former San Diego mayor Kevin Faulconer and former congressman Doug Ose will also appear on what will hopefully be a delightfully biodiverse ballot.
Yet only Jenner will bring enough star power to draw attention to an election that Democrats would prefer to ignore. And that attention is sorely needed. California is a progressive lab experiment, and the corpse long ago lurched off the table and set about smashing the test tubes. Residents are fleeing in droves. It’s next to impossible to build a house. The state’s lockdown is among the most punitive in the country and has failed to contain the coronavirus. The latest bright idea from Newsom is a total phase-out of state fracking permits.
Even if Newsom is likely to survive the recall, his ruinous record warrants a very public trial. And what better way for Jenner to leverage her fame, ill-begotten or otherwise, than by giving him just that?