Opinion | Don’t Get Bezosed

How do you feel now that it looks as though Newsom will win the recall election by a large margin? Was it worth it?

Exercising democracy is always worth it. It’s pretty incredible that in the most partisan state in the country, we are considering recalling our governor. The important question is “Why are we here?” The reason is that California is failing: in its response to the pandemic, in managing the impacts of climate change like wildfires and the water crisis, in fixing rising crime and homelessness. Despite having a one-party supermajority, in which any law could theoretically be passed, it’s not as if the governor has solved these issues. Throughout the pandemic, he put politics, entitlement and special interest groups ahead of science and common sense. The recall is showing that millions of people in California are really frustrated. My goal was to remind all of us that the power in politics should always be individual voters. In that way, I think it was a victory.

How did you look at the funding of Newsom by Reed Hastings? Where is tech now politically?

Everyone is allowed to support whomever they want. I am a strong supporter of the Democrats in general, but I also value levelheadedness. The truth is that we have major challenges facing our state right now, and the government of California seems either unwilling or unable to fix them. It actually pushes the responsibility even more to the private sector and tech entrepreneurs to develop the solutions we need to address climate change and inequality and deliver them at scale.

What are the important issues that Newsom has to deal with in the state?

I think he and all the politicians in Sacramento should see this recall election as a wake-up call. Even in California, we will vote along party lines for only so long. People want results and smart decisions that make their lives better. They want their kids in school, they want their water clean, they want jobs and economic security, they want the fires brought under control, and they want their streets safe. We have an abundance of wealth, talent and entrepreneurial spirit here — everything that’s needed to take big, bold action on these issues rather than just catering to the same old insiders.

Why didn’t you run? Shouldn’t you put your mouth where your money is?

I definitely thought about running, but it wasn’t the right time for my family or the work we are doing at Social Capital, but life is long. … I just committed $7 million to provide 1,000 families in the Central Valley with clean water. I’ll continue to find ways to help advance the work that the government can’t or won’t do.

Don’t miss this great investigation by Jeff Horwitz of The Wall Street Journal about Facebook’s XCheck program, in which the company gave a special pass to millions of celebrities, politicians and other grandees to post whatever they want. Say what you will about former President Donald Trump, but his misbehavior online has revealed a lot about the shoddy practices of the social media giants in dealing with their bad users.

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