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Democrats should think twice about Gavin Newsom

Gavin Newsom isn't ready for his closeup. Credit: Getty

November 6, 2023 - 6:00pm

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.

Newsom’s gentry politics were also evident on his trip to China at the end of October. He hailed his hosts — the world’s biggest polluters by far — for building Chinese-made electric vehicles which could boost his own mandate against gas-powered cars. He entered a “climate partnership” with Shanghai while doing nothing to question China’s awful civil rights record. After all, California’s oligarchs — outside of Elon Musk, who is shifting his operations increasingly out of state — have little interest in making cars or providing blue collar jobs.

More troublingly, Newsom will have to confront the increasingly neo-Marxist, in some cases antisemitic, wing of his own party. Many members of the Democratic business elite are themselves Jewish or have Jewish friends and associations, and the California Governor may need Jewish money to bolster his White House drive. Yet by appealing to the bourgeoisie, he will alienate many in his party who find his less committed brand of progressivism weak and insufficiently critical of Israel. Newsom might see himself as the future, but could soon come to be judged passé as young Democrats shift to an ever more radical stance, one which has little time for well-groomed jesters.


Joel Kotkin is the Hobbs Presidential Fellow in Urban Futures at Chapman University and author, most recently, of The Coming of Neo-Feudalism: A Warning to the Global Middle Class (Encounter)

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Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
8 months ago

I think a more accurate comparison would be Trudeau in Canada. He doesn’t really believe in anything. He’s naturally sympathetic to woke progressives because he comes from the privileged, white, wealthy class that embraces all the current luxury beliefs – beliefs that don’t directly impact him. He lives in a gated community while promoting open borders and defund the police. He shuts down public schools, while his children are attending private schools.

I have no doubt, however, that he will sell out anyone if it translates into electoral success. Newsom epitomizes the disconnected political class that has fostered the growth of populism. His presidency would be an absolute disaster.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
8 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

Newsom lives in the governor’s mansion in Sacramento. He has never lived in a gated community, as they don’t exist in San Francisco.

starkbreath
starkbreath
8 months ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

Wether or not he lives in a gated community is irrelevant. He’s an ivory tower elitist, imposing woke insanity (as noted in the article and links) on California with predictably disastrous results. Apart from the age issue, don’t see how he’s got a better chance than Biden of beating Trump, though I don’t know if any of them does.

Last edited 8 months ago by starkbreath
Champagne Socialist
Champagne Socialist
8 months ago
Reply to  starkbreath

Delusional Trumpbot.
Biden hammered him last time and will do it again. Or Newsome if that ‘s how it plays out. Nobody wants the fat orange t**d back except the brainless MAGA drones

Peter Joy
Peter Joy
8 months ago

You favour Sniffy Joe and Plastic Newsom, then? That figures: they’re champagne Socialists too.

Champagne Socialist
Champagne Socialist
8 months ago
Reply to  Peter Joy

I absolutely do! Only the MAGA morons would want Trump back – I guess that includes you!

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
8 months ago

Ah, the ocean-going snobbery of the middle-class ‘socialitist’. Lovely.

Champagne Socialist
Champagne Socialist
8 months ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

Socialist.
You’re welcome, dumbo!
I love how stupid you people are!

starkbreath
starkbreath
8 months ago

Dearest AssPain Bolshevist:
You don’t have to be a Trumpist (which I’m not, voted for Biden in 2020) to be outraged over the authoritarian turn the Democratic party has taken. If you’d bothered to read the article, you’d know that Trump’s polling ahead in 5 of 6 battleground states. The unquestioning support for Hamas among the far left will cost the Dems considerably. Your insistence that Biden will ‘hammer’ Trump is just a rerun of the arrogance shown by the Clinton and McAuliffe campaigns in 2016 and 2021. Don’t recall either one of those going too well for the D side.

Champagne Socialist
Champagne Socialist
8 months ago
Reply to  starkbreath

“You don’t have to be a Trumpist (which I’m not, voted for Biden in 2020)”
Yet here you are drooling all over the moron – little hard to take you seriously, sweetie.
Remind me, who exactly is elected by opinion polls?
Hamas? Biden is plainly supporting Israel.
You’re not very good at this, are you?

starkbreath
starkbreath
8 months ago

One of the worst things about the internet is that it gives shitweasels like you somewhere to hide while you make your asinine remarks. God knows you would never have the stones to talk that shit to anybody’s face.

Mary Bruels
Mary Bruels
8 months ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

Presumably the governor’s mansion has a fence around it. Same difference.

Jim Haggerty
Jim Haggerty
8 months ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader
Cathy Carron
Cathy Carron
8 months ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

Think ‘dining unmasked at the exclusive French Laundry restaurant with over a dozen pals in close quarters while insisting others in his state remain masked and quarantined’. That is Gavin Newsom.

Last edited 8 months ago by Cathy Carron
Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
8 months ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

they don’t exist in San Francisco

They absolutely do.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
8 months ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

Newsom doesn’t live in the governor’s mansion. He lives in a 12000 square ft home in the wealthy Sacramento suburb of Fair Oaks. Previously, he lived in exclusive Marin county.

J Bryant
J Bryant
8 months ago

This is a very interesting article for many reasons. I wonder at what point California’s draconian climate laws will start to hurt the elite? After all, many of those people do live in California and you can’t permanently hide from reality within your gated compound.
I also wonder about the effect of these climate policies on California’s agricultural industry? California is an agricultural powerhouse and that now seems unsustainable given all the adverse regulations flowing out of Sacramento.
If Newson really is running for President (as appears likely), how does he expect to sideline Harris without attracting the usual accusations of racism, etc?
I wouldn’t write him off, though. Look at Biden and Trump, both clowns in their own ways. One more clown in the mix will hardly be noticed.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
8 months ago
Reply to  J Bryant

Agriculture in California accounts for over 95 percent of water usage in the state. California has been in a severe drought for many years. Water is scarce in all of the Western states. Consequently, agriculture has had to rethink how it operates and what needs to go—like almonds, which need enormous amounts of water. Much of the “climate change” proposals and new methods of farming have agriculture’s support. Everyone is trying to find solutions even as they sometimes disagree. Politics has no place in the efforts to save agriculture in the midst of an historic drought.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
8 months ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

Isn’t the solution to California’s water problems more desalination?

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
8 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

I’ve always thought that might be the answer, and I believe it’s San Diego that has a plant, but it turns out that the financial cost is enormous. There is also an ecological problem as the coastal water composition is detrimental to sea animals. I need to read up on whether there have been any new developments.

Laura Creighton
Laura Creighton
8 months ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader
Carlos Danger
Carlos Danger
8 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

Short answer, no, desalination is not the solution. Once again we see the wisdom of Thomas Sowell’s observation that there are no solutions, only tradeoffs. Unlike in the Middle East, weighing the choices here in California shows we will do better to use our water more carefully than to pump it from the sea.

Kent Ausburn
Kent Ausburn
8 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

A better answer is to build more reservoirs and capture more of the spring Sierra Nevada snow-melt runoff that currently ends up in the Pacific Ocean. Unfortunately, the greenies oppose any new dams or reservoirs and, until now, have always carried the day in California.

Carlos Danger
Carlos Danger
8 months ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

We’re finally out of drought here in California this year. It’s cyclical — comes and goes.

Carlos Danger
Carlos Danger
8 months ago

Gavin Newsom is a Ken doll of politics, and Kamala Harris a Barbie. Gavin Newsom is 3 years younger than Kamala Harris, but they both rose around the same time in California’s machine politics.
Gavin Newsom was on the San Francisco board of supervisors, then mayor, then California lieutenant governor, then governor. Kamala Harris was San Francisco district attorney, then California attorney general, then United States senator, then vice president.
This Ken and Barbie are not a couple. Though they have climbed together, they are not friends. But they are a lot alike. Telegenic. Well spoken. Ambitious. Connected. Electable. Competent.
But neither has a record of accomplishment. They win elections by rising through the ranks of the Democratic party, not because of popularity with voters. They are machine politicians, with manufactured views.
I’ve lived just outside San Francisco for over 30 years. I worked downtown for several years, but rarely go there now. It’s too sad to see what’s happened to San Francisco, to the Bay Area, to California.
I blame these two, Ken and Barbie, and their ilk. Don’t let them become president and do the same thing to the country. Either of them. Let’s choose someone else.

Mary Bruels
Mary Bruels
8 months ago
Reply to  Carlos Danger

I wouldn’t call Harris “well spoken”. She’s the queen of word salad speeches.

Carlos Danger
Carlos Danger
8 months ago
Reply to  Mary Bruels

If you watch memes of Kamala Harris you might get that impression. If you give her a fair hearing you won’t.

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
8 months ago
Reply to  Carlos Danger

She’s too lazy to prepare and not sufficiently talented to wing it, I’m afraid.

Champagne Socialist
Champagne Socialist
8 months ago
Reply to  Mary Bruels

No doubt you think Donald Trump is eloquent…

Anna
Anna
8 months ago
Reply to  Carlos Danger

Newsom has executive experience as SF Mayor and now Governor. Harris doesn’t. Harris is tongue-tied. Newsom has a fun combative side and doesn’t flub lines. I’m not counting him out. SF is doing much better these days. Come downtown again and see!

Carlos Danger
Carlos Danger
8 months ago
Reply to  Anna

Kamala Harris does indeed have little to no executive experience, and that’s a big drawback. The only such experience she had was running her campaign for the presidency, and she made a mess of that. I like to say that I can’t criticize Kamala Harris for anything she’s done because she hasn’t done anything.
But Kamala Harris is not a bad speaker. I’ve listened to her over the years. She’s not great, but compare her to someone like Nancy Pelosi or Chuck Schumer and she sounds almost eloquent. She did pretty well in questioning during committee hearings too.
Gavin Newsom does better, though. I think you’re right about that. And at least he has done things over the years. But I can find lots to criticize him about. Particularly during the pandemic, but also his stance on global warming. Too much to say on that topic for this comment, but I stand by my criticism that both Gavin “Ken” Newsom and Kamala “Barbie” Harris belong in a doll house, not the White House.

Right-Wing Hippie
Right-Wing Hippie
8 months ago

Gavin Newsom looks like an escapee from a 1980s cyberpunk thriller.

Champagne Socialist
Champagne Socialist
8 months ago

Trumpbots might wish to be circumspect in criticizing the looks of other candidates!

T Bone
T Bone
8 months ago

This piece is dismissive of Newsome’s profound display of Performance Theatre. The Man is able to mystify even the most astute observer with nonsensical arguments that appear both classically liberal and empirically valid.

Nor does he flub lines. Compare Newsome to his Canadian counterpart. Whereas Senior Trudeau can be seen making a mess of Progressive acronyms; Newsome can perfectly execute while using meaningless statistics to stupify onlookers.

We must demand excellence and execution from our Political Actors if we ever want to resolve the Unsustainable Systemic Global Crises that have left the world unmasked and unvaccinated against the stain of Consumer Capitalist Colonization!

Champagne Socialist
Champagne Socialist
8 months ago
Reply to  T Bone

“We must demand excellence and execution from our Political Actors”
Is that why you worship Trump?
That fat clown doesn’t even know which city he’s in!

Right-Wing Hippie
Right-Wing Hippie
8 months ago

Do you know which city he’s in?

Champagne Socialist
Champagne Socialist
8 months ago

Yes. Don’t you? His antics are all over the news.

john d rockemella
john d rockemella
8 months ago

Hate is a strong word, newson is the devil! Weak people create weak times, never a truer word said than current state of politics! Intentionally I may add! They need you to break all beliefs of old establishment so they reign in the new world order!

Champagne Socialist
Champagne Socialist
8 months ago

Who forgot to give grandpa his meds?

Chris Maille
Chris Maille
8 months ago

Why don’t you use your puerile energy to reflect on answering comments that contain actual arguments against your mostly ridiculous claims ? Out of your league ? Don’t waste your time on this one.

AC Harper
AC Harper
8 months ago

Call me cynical but perhaps Joe Biden and Kamala Harris have not yet been medically retired so that any replacement is seen as a better choice?

Champagne Socialist
Champagne Socialist
8 months ago
Reply to  AC Harper

Not a bloated criminal with a bad fake tan and the stupidest hair cut in history.

AC Harper
AC Harper
8 months ago

The Elite that imperil the USA by keeping a geriatric President and do-nothing Vice President in place are worried by a bloated criminal with a bad fake tan and the stupidest hair cut in history?
Stay classy.

Champagne Socialist
Champagne Socialist
8 months ago
Reply to  AC Harper

“The Elite that imperil the USA”
You might want to loosen the tin foil hat just a tad, sweetie!
And the only people who should be worried about Trump are the MAGA putzes who are taken in by the buffoon. I am assuming that includes you!!!

Cathy Carron
Cathy Carron
8 months ago

Aren’t you the dude who just reprimanded someone above for commenting on people’s looks?

Champagne Socialist
Champagne Socialist
8 months ago
Reply to  Cathy Carron

You may wish to work on your reading interpretation skills, sweetie.

James Knight
James Knight
8 months ago

Always remember this a guy who slept with his best friend’s wife. I usually don’t make poltical choices based on character (I honestly think they all are dishonest people), however breaking that level of trust really says something.

Champagne Socialist
Champagne Socialist
8 months ago
Reply to  James Knight

“I usually don’t make poltical choices based on character”
Political. Are you guys really this stupid?
If you choose Trump based on character then I guess so…

Steve Jolly
Steve Jolly
8 months ago

The Republicans are probably slavering to run against any California Democrat. As the author mentioned, the campaign ads practically write themselves. In 2020, for the first time ever, California lost a representative, meaning they will have one fewer electoral college vote. They’re quick to point out that their population is still increasing, which is true, but it’s increasing very slowly while other states like Florida, North Carolina, and Texas are increasing in population much more quickly, and despite what the elites may think, most folks with or without a college education understand why. All the Republicans have to do is put California politics in the national spotlight for a few months and basically say, ‘here is what the Democratic party wants. Here is what happens when they get what they want. Here is what they want all of America to look like.’ The Democrats can deny it all they like but the evidence is right there for all to see.

Biden is a better candidate because he’s a doddering old man who is obviously just standing in front of the cameras as a figurehead for the uniparty establishment which, while it is distrusted and hated, is not yet as distrusted or as hated as Trump in most of the places that matter. Biden is an empty suit, Trump is a suit filled with dirty laundry, and Newsom is a suit filled with dog turds. Most people don’t really support any of them but can easily pick the least bad. If the Democrats demonstrate their stupidity by ramming Newsom through the primary as they did Biden and Clinton, they’ll pay a hefty price.

As much as I dislike most of Biden’s policies and the globalist establishment, I have to say I can appreciate their strategic acumen in rallying behind him to avoid a Sanders/Trump election. They chose wisely, so maybe that means they’re coming to grips with the end of the globalist age and adjusting their expectations. They’ve done some decent work objectively speaking. The Ukraine situation has been a foreign policy win so far. Putin and his overrated army did most of the heavy lifting, but there’s something to be said for just catching the lazy fly ball. They’ve also tightened the screws on China, passed the CHIPS act, and mostly backed Israel. They’re finally coming around on the border crisis. They’re not what I would call competent yet, but they’re less bad than they were under Obama or the Clinton machine, and preferable to Trump, barely. They seem to have at least learned some lessons from the Trump era and have seemed to grasp which way the wind is blowing. On the other hand, if they turn around and push Newsom in 2028, or 2024, I’ll probably write them off as hopelessly out of touch once again.

Last edited 8 months ago by Steve Jolly
Mike Michaels
Mike Michaels
8 months ago

Scott Weiner VP. Dream ticket.