How Musicians Can Help Prevent the California Gubernatorial Recall: Guest Commentary

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It is not hyperbole to say that we are living in incredibly bizarre times. Waking up to the news everyday feels a bit like living in a post-apocalyptic, science fiction movie. Every day it feels as if a new pressing issue presents itself to us, and not only do we need to figure out how to digest it, we also have to figure out how to combat it. We are living in a time where having a platform and a connection to community is more important than ever. As an artist who is privileged enough to have a platform, I try to use it for good in times of crisis.

On Sept. 14, a gubernatorial recall election will take place in California. Governor Gavin Newsom is up against a number of Republican candidates, many of whom want to do everything in their power to roll back the progress California has made on Covid-19 vaccination access and mandates, climate protection policies, gun safety laws, access to healthcare for the most needy, and many other important things the state has prioritized under Newsom. Newsom has not been a perfect governor by any means, but when you look at what California, as well as the entire country, has faced since the pandemic started 18 months ago, a recall absolutely does not feel warranted. Not to mention, Newsom is up for reelection in 2022, so this recall is a huge waste of taxpayers’ dollars.

There is so much at stake in this election, more than just simply replacing a governor. If Newsom is recalled, it will affect much more than just the state of California. Senator Diane Feinstein is 88 years old and if she is unable to finish her term and a GOP governor gets to choose her successor, the possibility of tipping the balance of power in the U.S. Senate towards Mitch McConnell and the Republicans becomes a very real threat. California, a state whose wildfires seem to get worse with every passing year, cannot afford to have a governor in office who will bat an eye at climate change. With this past July being the hottest month ever recorded on planet earth, it is clear that we need to act on the climate crisis now.

So where do artists come in? Aside from making sure we vote if we live in California, how can we help? One of the easiest ways is by simply mobilizing our fanbases via social media. It might not seem like a lot, but by posting facts, resources and links on the platforms we have, we can reach a large number of people. And think what would happen if all artists, or a large percentage of them, used their platforms for good. That’s a lot of people gaining access to information about this recall election. That’s a lot of fans who live in say, Texas, who have relatives in California that they forward information to or send a text message to asking them if they plan to vote in the recall election. We live in a world where social media rules us in a way, like it or not, so why not use it for good? Why not encourage your fans to do more than like a selfie of you on vacation or a cute photo of your cat? Encourage and enable them to feel inspired to use their own voices for good.

Another reason why musicians should be using their platforms to speak out about this recall election is because our jobs very much depend on the ability to gather safely with large groups of people. With California leading the nation in vaccination verification measures, it is imperative we have a governor who will continue to take this virus and the need for a vaccine very, very seriously. Our jobs as musicians quite literally depend on it. With the Delta variant running rampant across the country, it is incredibly important that we have someone competent running the nation’s most populous state. This really isn’t even about Democrats versus Republicans anymore either, it’s about reality versus conspiracy theories. It’s about the hope of progressing forward versus dangerously rolling backwards. Will artists alone, or anyone for that matter, save the world? Of course not. But there is something to be said about taking action and being of service to a world that really needs our help — Putting positive energy into places that need a push forward. It might sound corny, but the world needs more love, more hope, more action, and there really is no easier way to do so than by utilizing our platform for good. I sincerely hope that artists — in California and outside of it — will join me and use this less-than-ideal situation as an opportunity to do good with their platforms. There is simply too much to lose otherwise.

California native and Los Angeles resident Bethany Cosentino is co-founder and lead singer of California-based duo Best Coast.

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