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Life at the California Capitol is carefully designed with one overriding goal in mind: keep the public out.
There is no State Capitol so insular, no political system so impenetrable, no place in the country – or perhaps even in the broader democratic world – where ordinary citizens are so excluded from participating in public life.
And that was before COVID. Gavin Newsom’s one-man rule has made things a hundred times worse.
On the most important matters, there is now no legislative process to try to participate in. It’s just the arbitrary edicts of a single person.
The very disregard for the Constitution that has turned life upside down in California has further diminished the already limited political agency of ordinary Californians.
That’s why the most common question I get is, “What can we do?” And it’s why, unfortunately, there aren’t great answers.
But that doesn’t mean there are no answers. It doesn’t mean there’s nothing you can do. And with everyone in California’s attention trained on our state government, and specifically our state’s Governor, there’s a newfound potential for advocacy and activism to reach a larger audience.
Here are a few ways every Californian can fight back. I’d love to hear your thoughts on ideas I can add to the list.
There is currently an impressively organized recall campaign that has gained considerable traction. You can see my previous post about it here.
The short version: it may succeed, and it is building a movement of patriotic Californians who are dedicated to saving our state.
Several lawsuits are challenging Gov. Newsom’s executive overreach. While mine and James Gallagher’s is the only one so far to receive any ruling against the Governor, there are two important new suits that are seeking citizen support:
- The Center for American Liberty, led by the extraordinary Harmeet Dhillon, is challenging Gov. Newsom’s School Closure Order as denying kids their right to an education.
- The Pacific Legal Foundation is litigating an important case to protect property rights.
Of course, every Californian also has the right to file a lawsuit of their own if you’ve suffered a concrete injury.
It’s true that local media stations are unlikely to publicize direct criticism of the Governor. But they do seek out human interest stories about people who are struggling.
If you or someone you know has been especially hard hit by Newsom’s policies, you can pitch the story to local media and viewers can connect the dots to the Governor.
As one example, I’ve done several interviews about EDD that include testimonials from people who haven’t received benefits. Last week, the ABC affiliate in San Francisco did a whole Townhall on the subject called “Cry for Help.”
You can also send Letters to the Editor to your local papers. I’d recommend the same approach of focusing on the tragic effect of Gov. Newsom’s policies. Other outlets include talk radio shows and podcasts.
Every time you share a post you help to spread a message. I know many readers share my posts from this blog, which has been tremendously helpful in getting the word out.
What’s especially powerful is when you multiply your impact by encouraging your friends to share posts with their network.
The Legislature has the ability to rein in Gov. Newsom, but has refused to do so. Very few legislators have said anything about the collapse of checks and balances in California. If they did, Newsom would be politically compelled to stop ruling the state by decree.
You can ask your Assembly Member to support ACR 196, my Resolution to terminate Gov. Newsom’s emergency powers. The are two main ways to do this:
- Letters/Calls – Admittedly, these rarely make much difference. But what legislators do notice is volume: If hundreds or thousands of people start writing or calling about a bill, they take notice. So if you can organize a group of like-minded people to take concerted action, it can help.
- Meetings – Ask to meet with your legislator. There’s a good chance your request will be denied, so ask to meet with a member of their staff. About a week after that meeting, follow up and say you’d now like to meet with the legislator.
November’s election is among the most important in California history. While Gov. Newsom is not on the ballot, voters have a chance to rebuke his abuses of power by sending more Republicans to the Legislature.
If the GOP makes gains, a chastened Newsom will likely feel compelled to act differently to try to avoid the same fate when he’s on the ballot.
There are several districts where Republican challengers are running strong campaigns. You can support these candidates by volunteering (phone calls, letter-writing, etc.) or donating. Here are their names and websites:
It’s also, of course, important to support incumbents who the Democrats are targeting.
One bit of good news is the GOP has already picked up the seat currently held by Christie Smith, as it’s two Republicans facing off in the runoff. Incidentally, Smith lost her bid for Congress to Mike Garcia in a GOP pickup.
Local Republican Clubs
Far-reaching political change starts at the grassroots level. The Republican Women Federated is a tremendous volunteer organization with chapters all across the state. I’ve probably visited with close to 20 chapters. You can find the chapter closest to you here.
You can also get involved by going to meetings of your county party, which you can find here, or by joining the California Republican Assembly, which Ronald Reagan called the “conscience of the Republican Party.”
The more people who join these organizations, the greater our collective capacity to produce change, as the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
Organize Around Specific Issues
Activism can be more powerful when it’s focused on one specific issue. As an example, the homeschool community in California has fought back successfully against some attempts by the Legislature to regulate and harass them.
So if you are a salon owner who has been harmed by the Governor’s arbitrary orders, you can join forces with other salon owners in your community to protest the Governor’s actions, contact your legislator, and so forth. With social media, this has never been easier.
Ultimately, replacing Gov. Newsom and saving our state will require a broad coalition. I believe that coalition is just waiting to coalesce.
But it will take the right message – one that is appealing to decent people of all parties because it focuses on what is appalling to decent people of all parties about Gov. Newsom’s failed leadership:
- He has undermined checks and balances, upended the Constitution, and silenced the people of California in a way that is doing lasting damage to our civic institutions.
- He is controlled by wealthy special interests who dictate his every move.
- He has used the coronavirus State of Emergency to try to inflate his national profile, to the detriment of the people of California.
- Under his one-man rule, California is faring among the worst of any state when it comes to both public health and the economy.
I know many people feel California is a lost cause. We lose people to other states every day.
But I believe our state is worth fighting for. California is a place unlike anywhere in the world. It’s just our politics that are broken.
If we can fix our politics, starting with ending Newsom’s one-man rule, we can do an immense amount of good in a state of 40 million people.
Thank you for being in this fight. I’m honored to be in it with you.
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