Democrats Should Think Twice About Gavin Newsom


Nobles always need jesters, reliably entertaining for the self-satisfied set. In modern America no politician better fits the bill than California Governor Gavin Newsom, the man many well-placed Democrats, and their media minions, would like to succeed the doddering Joe Biden. With a new poll from the New York Times putting the President well behind Donald Trump in five out of six key battleground states, this succession plan may have to be activated sooner than intended.

Newsom, however, exhibits an apparent inability to appreciate the facts. He claims that his state is at the vanguard of American development, all while California’s economy falls behind and residents leave for elsewhere. There has been an exodus of corporate interest, too: Blackstone has just pulled out of the Playa Vista office complex, once seen as the epitome of LA’s tech and entertainment economy. The state’s latest employment report found fewer Californians employed than a year earlier, while the unemployment rate has crept up to 4.7%, the third highest of any state, as the labour force continues to decline.

Putting aside its economic failures, Newsom also laughably presents California as a model of tolerance and freedom. Yet the Governor signs legislation that limits basic speech rights; opposes parental rights over their children; and promotes a radical, allegedly antisemitic “ethnic studies” agenda. All this while seeking to regulate virtually every business, as well as the actions of everyday Californians, in order to satisfy climate goals.

Really, Newsom is a textbook case of gentry progressivism and its disastrous implications for working- and middle-class people. His energy policies may wow the green corporate industry, but the resulting high electricity rates have been devastating for many Californians. Plagued by soaring crime rates and a severe budget deficit, the state is not well-positioned to address these issues.

Yet it is a common conservative mistake to label Newsom as a radical “progressive” in the AOC or Democratic socialist mould. In fact, as he seemingly gears up to run for president, his actions instead follow the gentry mould — strong support for Net Zero, transgender and racial agendas while remaining “moderate” on issues which negatively impact the financial elite.

This was clear in his veto of several progressive bills last month, on issues such as allowing striking workers to collect state benefits. Last year he vetoed new tax schemes in the face of a massive deficit. At the same time, he has merrily signed off to ever more draconian climate legislation, which is yet to alienate his backers from California’s entertainment, finance and tech sectors. In an increasingly post-industrial state, the blue-collar “carbon economy” — manufacturing, agriculture, and logistics —  can pound sand.

Read the rest of this piece at UnHerd.

Joel Kotkin is the author of The Coming of Neo-Feudalism: A Warning to the Global Middle Class. He is the Roger Hobbs Presidential Fellow in Urban Futures at Chapman University and Executive Director for Urban Reform Institute. Learn more at and follow him on Twitter @joelkotkin.

Photo: Gage Skidmore via Flickr under under CC 2.0 License.