Don’t Run for Governor

To govern well begins with being pro-life for the whole of life



Wherever you reside, gentle reader, I have some advice. Don’t run for governor in your fair state. Yes, I can well imagine your asking “Who needs such advice?” And if you are a sensible person, the very idea of doing so has never crossed your mind.

Unless, that is, you live in California!

Here’s some context. Governor Gavin Newsom is facing a recall vote. Both his friends and foes think that enough signatures have been gathered to force a special election, probably in November. Voters will be asked, first, to say “aye” or “nay” on whether he keeps his office.

Then comes the second vote. Voters will be asked, however they vote on the first question, to select who they want in office. Newsom’s name will be on that list, along with the names of many other candidates, some serious and some not. Plus, whatever happens in the special election, next year, in 2022, Californians will once again choose a governor, either the then current governor or someone new.

Of course, everyone knows that California is “special,” but even so I can think of three good reasons not to run for governor. (My wife, savvy in the exercise of practical reason, could supply more.) First, there’s the money problem. Running for statewide office is ordinarily prohibitively expensive. Second, there’s the time involved. Competitive candidates pretty much put their lives on hold, especially given the sheer size of California and its countless constituencies. Third, there’s the matter of experience. Our governor needs to have the kind of experience that the president or prime minister of most countries have even to hold on to office, much less to govern well.

Given such formidable reasons, the adage “fools rush in where angels fear to tread” comes to mind. Nonetheless, while I’m no angel, I plead not guilty to being a fool. Nor am I one to “rush in.” I have considered each of the reasons noted above. Here’s why they do not give me (much) pause.

With regard to money, filing for the special election costs just under $4,000 and considerably less with, say, 1,000 supporting signatures. Not so bad. In my case the money will in part come from family coffers that would otherwise be put to more dubious uses. (No need to go into particulars, especially those that are potable.) Now it’s true that I can’t walk around enough blocks to garner 1,000 signatures. But more ambulatory friends will come to my aid.

Time ticks along, and no septuagenarian has time to waste. But given that the campaign, though solvent, faces financial limits, there will be neither money nor time spent on slick mailers or TV adverts, much less star-studded rallies. Plus, my party doesn’t pander to identity politics. It’s one and only, and glorious, constituency is the human person wherever he or she lives in this troubled country of ours.

But what about experience? It is, of course, a critical issue. Pardon me, though, if I offer an analogy. Anyone surviving a train wreck has a great deal of experience to offer, perhaps more to offer than the railroad execs or engineers or tech experts who have not. I’ve lived 45 years in a state that once reflected the American Dream and now exports a primal scream. Experience, we should note, isn’t for the sake of experience (Sisyphus merits pity, not praise.) We need the experience that leads to governing well. To govern well begins with being pro-life for the whole of life.

And what does this mean? It means showing solidarity with the most vulnerable: the preborn and their mothers, the elderly and their caregivers, with prisoners wrongly imprisoned or imprisoned “for profit.” It means guaranteeing that workers have a living wage in a state (and in a country) in which a full-time worker paid a minimum wage still cannot afford a one-bedroom apartment. It means that our flagship university should not be in the business of nuclear weaponry development.

While it remains unclear how the American Solidarity Party came to have yours unruly as its California candidate for governor, this very thing has come to pass. For my part, I count it a great honor and only a modest burden. The party and our campaign will be competitive in vision.


Jim Hanink is an independent scholar, albeit more independent than scholarly!

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