Newsom’s Hollow Ring of Freedom

Following decades of progressive mismanagement, pretty much all California has left is the tattered myth of a once-great state.

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On Friday, January 6, under a sky swept blue by days of wind and rain, California governor Gavin Newsom marched with family and supporters to his second inaugural.

Newsom called it “the People’s March.” His press office called it “a celebration of freedom and democracy.” Recalling the iconic 1965 civil-rights march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala., the marchers linked arms and walked just shy of one mile across Sacramento’s Tower Bridge and toward the state capitol.

From march to oath of office and inaugural address, the event was painstakingly choreographed to distinguish this great Democratic idealist from Republican governors, or, as Newsom called them, “small men in big offices.” To better control that message, Newsom’s team handpicked the marchers and barred reporters, under the threat, according to one, “that our press passes could be revoked for future events if we disobeyed.”

But — and here’s your metaphor — several blocks short of the marchers’ destination, Newsom clambered into the backseat of an up-armored SUV, which conveyed him the rest of the way to Capitol Park. There, he was ushered onto a beflagged stage from which to celebrate the arrival of the parade he created for himself. When the crowd settled, he took his oath of office and delivered what he likely meant to be a soaring second inaugural.

In that speech, the governor laid out his family’s history in California — 150 years from Cork County, Ireland, to the governor’s office. In California they found that “anything was possible.”

“I hear the echoes of my own family’s story in those who are still coming to California to pursue their dreams, drawn by the myth and magic of this place,” he said.

Myth and magic are about all the state has left. Following decades of progressive mismanagement, people and companies are leaving the state in epic numbers. Just weeks before Newsom’s inauguration, the U.S. Census Bureau announced that the state had lost population for the third year in a row. The once-unfathomable exodus has cost the Golden State a congressional seat.

In his speech, Newsom declared that “what makes California special” — what makes it unlike red states — is that “we’re a state of dreamers and doers bound by our live-and-let-live embrace of personal freedom.”

“Red state politicians and the media empire behind them [are] selling regression as progress, oppression as freedom,” Newsom said, delivering what sounded remarkably like Donald Trump’s “American Carnage” speech. “All across the nation, anxiety about social change has awakened long-dormant authoritarian impulses . . . calling into question what America is to become, freer and fairer . . . or reverting to a darker past.”

But “freedom” sounds strange coming from the lips of a governor who still rules under a Covid-era emergency authorization that he promises he’ll surrender before March 1. He used that authority to shut down churches, close beaches, and let local teachers’ unions keep schools locked down longer than anywhere else in America.

As he embarks on his second term, he has unleashed a pack of new laws that expand government power and limit freedom. One Newsom law would punish doctors who spread “false information that is contradicted by contemporary scientific consensus contrary to the standard of care.” His new reparations commission contemplates making $223,000 payments to the descendants of slaves, but Newsom offers nothing to fix a public-education system that his own reparations commission says has failed black kids so badly that it serves as a “school to prison pipeline.” He ratchets up environmental regulations on gasoline; when fuel prices spike, he calls for an investigation into “price-gouging” by the oil industry. He commands us to buy electric cars and then begs us not to charge them for fear we’ll take down the state’s electric grid. He blames water shortages on climate change in a state that, in order to appease environmentalists, hasn’t built a dam, reservoir, or aqueduct in 40 years. Another new law will force hundreds of thousands of fast-food workers into a government-controlled union they didn’t ask for — and will likely lead to job-killing automation and the concentration of fast-food restaurants into fewer and fewer hands.

As you read this, Newsom’s Assembly Bill 5 is destroying 70,000 nonunion trucking firms. Another law will grant sanctuary to transgender kids from other states, even over the objections of their parents. Another new law bans “disruptive” speech in public meetings — a law aimed at frustrated parents who begged the governor to reopen their schools. In order to produce gender equity, there’s a new law that sets prices on consumer goods designed for women. Another requires corporations with at least 15 employees to publish their pay scales. And while taxpayer-funded abortions for everyone might sound like freedom to some, nobody asked the unborn — and if those babies want a voice and a choice, let them get a union.

Everything this state government does comes with the promise to produce social justice and the certainty that life will in fact become more difficult for everyday Californians. We now know, for instance, that a law authored by the United Farm Workers to boost overtime pay for farmworkers has in fact — wait for it — reduced their incomes.

After the oath and before his formal remarks, Newsom seemed to ad-lib about an exchange he’d just had on the Tower Bridge with Dolores Huerta, a co-founder of the United Farm Workers. “Dolores Huerta leaned over and said, ‘Look, I’ve marched with a lot of people, but Martin Luther King Jr. never walked as fast as you are right now,’” he said with a laugh. “Now I don’t know if that was brag or I don’t know what it was exactly, but it was a hell of a thing to hear from Dolores Huerta when you’re walking across the bridge.”

Click here to read the full article in the National Review


  1. Dis-gusting. Sadly, we have a penchant for electing the pretty boys to office. Couldn’t someone point out to the Woke that he is a member of the capitalist, racist, white male gender who flits around from state to state in ecologically unfriendly private jets?

  2. The Woke are not awake enough to hear, Carrie.

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