by Joel Kotkin
Wednesday, 15
September 2021
Explainer
16:28

Gavin Newsom wins, but California loses

The Governor's victory papers over deep issues in the state
by Joel Kotkin
California Gov. Gavin Newsom addresses reporters after winning his recall.

The lopsided defeat of the effort to recall Governor Gavin Newsom in California assures that, for the foreseeable future, the progressive gentry and their public sector allies remain firmly in charge of the world’s most important technology and mass entertainment economy. Yet if things look good now for the coiffed Chief Executive, they may be taking a turn for the worse in the years ahead.

It certainly means hard times for the state’s middle and working classes. Newsom’s win will lead to ever more stringent energy policies that have already decimated the state’s industrial sector. Ever since California decided to lead the “war” against climate change in the past decade, the Golden State has lost its ability to create well-paying private sector jobs. Even without adjusting for costs, no California metro area ranks in the US top ten in terms of well-paying blue-collar jobs. But four — Ventura, Los Angeles, San Jose, and San Diego—sit among the bottom ten.

The devastation of other sectors, notably energy and agriculture, seems all but certain as greens and their regulator allies squeeze both sectors.  It already suffers the highest cost adjusted poverty rate, a higher level of inequality (Gini coefficient) than Mexico, the second lowest rate of homeownership among the states and the greatest concentration of overcrowded housing in the nation. For working class consumers, green virtues have led to the rapid expansion of energy poverty largely in the impoverished and hotter interior. The state’s unemployment rate is among the highest in the country while one out of every three households, find achieving even basic security “elusive”.

Things are likely now to get worse for these Californians, since the electoral triumph will convince progressives that the California “success story” remains unblemished. In Sacramento there’s talk of increased environmental regulation, essentially wiping out the state’s once large, and still vibrant, energy sector. Agriculture, reeling from drought and the refusal of the state to expand storage capacity, faces a potentially disastrous future. Some 6600 Central Valley farmers have already been told not to expect deliveries this year. More welfare, not a strong productive economy, seems to be the progressive answer to these problems.

But even expansive subsidies and cash grants may not be enough. The dissatisfaction is there, particularly among key Democratic constituencies like young voters, Latinos, and blue-collar workers, all of whom have expressed deep dissatisfaction with the state’s direction. Before the massive media and organising campaign, these voters favoured the recall, and also tend to be those who contemplate leaving. Even before Covid, 53% of Californians were considering a move out and almost two-thirds thought the state’s best days were behind it.

Can the Republicans build on this resentment?  The emergence of Larry Elder, an African American talk show host with inner city roots, demonstrates that the party is open to something other than white males. What Elder lacks, and the Republicans in general, is something more compelling than denunciation of progressive folly. They need to build a programme that offers middle- and working-class voters a brighter future. Until they do, California will continue to move inexorably towards its neo-feudal future.

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Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
9 months ago

Mail in vote harvesting, and an election budget beyond anything which is comparable with democracy.

This is yet another corrupt, bought and rigged, election. If anyone fails to believe in an evil elite taking control of the West they are not paying attention.

A tragic result.

Norman Powers
Norman Powers
9 months ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

Doubtful, especially given the margins. The Democrats used an extremely aggressive strategy by refusing to appoint any competitors to Newsom, basically saying that if you’re left wing then you have to suck it up and deal with him, despite his poor behavior. If they had nominated any other candidates it’d probably have gone through, but apparently the party machine is loyal to Newsom more than the voters themselves. They calculated, correctly, that the average Californian would take a left wing incumbent with any level of hypocrisy or problems, than vote Republican.
I met a couple of Americans on holiday earlier this year, on a boat trip. They were from LA. At lunchtime we got talking. I was surprised to hear them complain constantly about the level of violent crime. When the discussion turned to what caused it, we (the non Americans around the table) were told that it’s because the government had released all the violent prisoners to save money. My eyes bugged out slightly because that is not at all what I’d heard was happening there, and when I checked later I could find no support for this story. What was actually going wrong is they voted in a very hard left DA who is refusing to prosecute people, and violent offenders are being released early too because of that. It’s not a money problem (LA is rich!), it’s a deliberate political stance. Yet these particular voters appeared to somehow have overlooked that factor and convinced themselves it was all due to some vague form of fiscal conservatism. I can’t really say I’m surprised by this outcome of the recall election as a consequence.

JR Stoker
JR Stoker
9 months ago
Reply to  Norman Powers

And the Republicans had two leading candidates who split the vote; neither of whom were at all inspiring

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
9 months ago
Reply to  JR Stoker

Well as much as I know about Larry Elder, I’m impressed. I also once watched a Youtube account of his life and his relationship with his father – very inspiring.

Ray Zacek
Ray Zacek
9 months ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

Ballot harvesting is the bump stock of voter fraud.

JP Martin
JP Martin
9 months ago
Reply to  Ray Zacek

As someone in California told me, the ‘D’ stands for ‘deceased’ and ‘duplicate’, not ‘Democrat’.

James Joyce
James Joyce
9 months ago

There is a guy, Curtis Yarvin, whom I just learned about who had blogged under the name Mendius Moldbug, who has some very interesting ideas. Impossible to adequately summarize, but he is anti-democratic because democracy no longer works.
Are American elections free and fair? Perhaps not. One question he posed was essentially this: If all of the mainstream media (except Fox) and social media such as FB and Twitter suddenly became government employees in the newly created “Ministry of Information” or “Ministry of Truth,” take your pick, would anything change? Fascinating thought experiment!
He also has a concept called RAGE: Retire All Government Employees. As someone who is second to none in my hatred for (almost) all government employees, it’s a great idea. He cites Germany, and the former DDR–Germany pays these dudes but they can’t do any more harm. As a practical matter, this could work, as it would stop the Deep State (he calls it The Cathedral, [tomato, tomato]).
Why do I hate govt. employees–and why should you hate them too? One example: the school police officer in the Florida shooting–a fat, donut-eating, worthless piece of garbage, who hid outside rather than confront the school shooter–retired on a pension of $108K/year. $108K/per annum! Sickening! ALL government employees (except possibly military on deployment are grossly overpaid).

Ray Zacek
Ray Zacek
9 months ago

California voted to retain Newsom, they can have him. Good and hard.

David Simpson
David Simpson
9 months ago

But isn’t it great? Anyone who really doesn’t like him can just leave, and go to Wyoming or Texas or South Dakota, as I think they have been doing, in quite large numbers. I’m a more and more full on Brexiteer (having voted Remain) but that is one thing I do regret. The freedom to vote with one’s feet is very precious.

A Spetzari
A Spetzari
9 months ago
Reply to  David Simpson

Side question – what made you change your mind on Brexit?

David Simpson
David Simpson
9 months ago
Reply to  A Spetzari

I really only voted Remain because my children wanted me to, and they had more skin in the game than I did. I was very unimpressed by the Remain campaign, and even more so by what came after the Referendum. I live in France now, but I’m very glad for my country’s sake that we’ve managed to leave. I simply pray that more will follow, or that the EU will change its spots (most unlikely i suspect).

A Spetzari
A Spetzari
9 months ago
Reply to  David Simpson

Interesting thanks! I agree. I was close in my decision but only just came down on the Brexit side. Since then I have only been further convinced it was the right choice.

John Hicks
John Hicks
9 months ago

This, on top of the San Andreas fault? Not a place for Mum and the kids to secure their dreams, one would imagine.

JP Martin
JP Martin
9 months ago

Of the places I have lived, California always reminds me of Argentina: wasted potential, government inefficiency, dysfunction, political corruption, crime, extreme social inequality… In both places, I witnessed a very bizarre cult like devotion to the same bad politics that are making the society sick. Everyone complains, but they make the same bad choices. It is a big worry because California is exporting this ‘culture’ to the world.

Douglas Proudfoot
Douglas Proudfoot
9 months ago

Democrats spent $100 million to keep Gov. Gruesome in office in California, a state where they have a 2 to 1 advantage in registered Democrats to Republicans. Recall advocates spent $10 million. If it was really not a problem, and a big embarrassment for Republicans, why did Democrats spend so much? It was wasteful overkill, at the very least
In reality, Republicans forced Democrats to spend big bucks to defend what should have been a safe seat against a poorly financed attack for the excellent reason that Newsom is a very bad governor.

Last edited 9 months ago by Douglas Proudfoot