Newsom’s California is arguably the most unfree state in the union.

Gavin Newsom’s Weird Idea of ‘Freedom’

Victor Davis Hanson
American Greatness

In a run-up to what is likely to be a 2024 presidential bid, California Governor Gavin Newsom hit upon the bizarre idea of boasting in commercials that California is America’s true “free” state.

Part of his ad campaign is to attack Florida—currently run by Newsom’s possible rival, Governor Ron DeSantis.

Yet, with the most burdensome regulations and high tax rates, Newsom’s California is arguably the most unfree state in the union.

In return for these steep costs, the state’s public institutions, infrastructure, and services are among the country’s worst.

California’s once-vaunted freeway system is near the bottom of all state comparisons. California’s Highway 99, which runs the length of the Central Valley, is one of the deadliest roads in America based on miles driven.

Over half the nation’s homeless crowd the state’s major cities. One-third of America’s welfare recipients have flooded into the state. A fifth of the resident population lives below the poverty line. Well over a quarter of Golden State residents were not born in the United States.

California public school test scores consistently fall among the bottom 10 states. San Francisco has the highest per capita property crime rate in the country.

The recently recalled San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin and his soon to be recalled Los Angeles counterpart George Gascón have nearly ruined their cities. Both are iconic of multibillionaire George Soros’ nationwide efforts to undermine the entire criminal justice system.

State residents are not free to drive safely because of their decrepit freeways. They are not free from filthy and toxic sidewalks or dangerous physical assault in their major cities.

Public school children are not free to enjoy competitive educations. San Franciscans are not free to park their cars without fearing that they will be vandalized or stolen.

The destruction of these freedoms is in direct proportion to the confiscatory taxes that the state collects—the highest bracket of income and gasoline rates in the nation, among the highest sales taxes, and property taxes that soar due to inflated assessments in spite of a 1978 state constitutional amendment.

Currently, California faces brownouts due to the longstanding, deliberate curtailment of electrical generation plants.

Yosemite’s historic redwood forest is currently threatened with what are now customary California summer conflagrations.

The destructive, dirty forest fires reflect a deliberate state policy of not gleaning the forests of dead trees, but rather letting the flammable debris serve as “natural” fodder for bugs and birds.

The state has not built a major reservoir in nearly 40 years.

In rarer wet years, millions of acre-feet of runoff and snowmelt simply cascade to the sea. Releasing such vital water apparently enhances 19th-century riparian landscapes—and discourages its own agribusiness.

Amid Newsom’s anti-Florida ad campaign, the governor was vacationing at the upscale digs of his Montana in-laws—escorted by his ample state-paid security detail. That is odd, given Newsom’s California labels Montana a homophobic hellhole, and will not even reimburse state employees who dare to convention there.

Hypocrisy and elite virtue signaling, however, are now trademarks of California politicians—and illustrate how little elected officials care for the victims of their ideological agendas.

Newsom bragged about his tough California mask mandate although it did not lower COVID deaths per capita in any measurable degree than did the policies of the red states he so often trashes. He violated his own COVID mandates by dining at the upscale French Laundry restaurant and hanging out unmasked with Magic Johnson.

Newsom has done nothing to remedy his state’s soaring gas prices, terrible schools and infrastructure, or spiking crime. But he did virtue signal about giving illegal aliens millions of state dollars in COVID relief.

Rather than develop California’s rich gas and oil reserves, Newsom promised strapped motorists that he would send them a one-time fuel gift of $400.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), likewise, hectors Californians to mask and quarantine—all the better for her to sneak around unmasked at her hairdresser’s, or to jet to the beaches of Tuscany.

Former senator and current Chinese government lobbyist Barbara Boxer retired to an estate in Rancho Mirage. Recent Governor Jerry Brown isolated himself on his 2,500 acres in Grass Valley—idyllic locations far away from the education, infrastructure, and urban disasters that exploded under their tenures.

So it is Orwellian for Newsom to brag about a “free” California that supposedly will entice Floridians or Texans. In truth, over the last decades hundreds of thousands of Californians and billions of dollars of wealth fled the now inert California for a far freer Florida and Texas, among other states.

By voting with their feet and bank accounts, California’s expatriates considered these destinations far superior to their home state: safer, cheaper, better managed, and freer.

Newsom resembles a pathetic owner of a once successful, but now run-down, high-priced gas station without clients. In jealousy, he flails and screams at the newer, gleaming competitor across the street, with superior service, lower prices, and better value—and jam packed with his own former but now wiser customers.

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21 thoughts on “Gavin Newsom’s Weird Idea of ‘Freedom’”

  1. I guess New-something feels vindicated and superior especially after triumphing during his recall. . .

    1. Newspm is a crooked, unfaithful to true American values. A dictator that gives illegal aliens American tax dollars and Sanctuary for vote. 110% TRAITOR to this great Nation.
      52yr California Native.

    2. One has to wonder how narcissistic a person could be to believe that they are presidential material after a state recall petition against you meets the necessary signators to force a recall. Plus all the negatives Dr. Hanson stated.

      I suspect the reason he survivied the recall is because voters looked at his possible replacements and felt none were up to the task.

  2. Not to mention the ticking timebomb of unfunded state, county and city union employee retirement funds, as well as the incestuous union/politician alliance.

  3. Andrew Mueller

    When I read your column I wonder if Newsom is that oblivious to his state’s failures, or does he genuinely believe his state is more ‘free.’ I cannot fathom that he is that unaware, but I am careful not to underestimate many progressive leaders living in their own utopian ‘la-la lands.’ His ad campaign against Florida Governor Desantis seems like an effort to deflect attention from his own administration’s shortcomings. But then again the progressives’ upside-down standards may lead them to believe they are successful. Surely they are not measuring their standards according to the needs of the masses.

  4. I’m convinced that the Democrats want society to be poorer so that they consume less. All those people living in tent cities in SF aren’t consuming all that much, and much of what they do consume is recycled or scraps. Is Gaia grateful? Newsom truly believes this is a model for the nation, and if elected president he would work very hard to make it happen. But I suspect much of the country looks at him and sees a kook.

    Nevertheless, I don’t think many really believe Biden will be a two term president. He’ll either not run, or if he’ll get knocked out in the primaries or be defeated in the general election. Newsom likely sees this time as his chance, as will an umpteen number of other Democrats (and Republicans for that matter). He’ll run on abortion, abortion, abortion, and perhaps on replacing all those petroleum derived nylon tents with organic canvas ones.

    1. I have noticed something about this thread, like me you all have grievances. It’s hard to admit but some of the problems I helped cause. For example, I like my house value going up, but that makes it harder for younger generations to attain the same dream. I don’t like our homeless situation, but I’m not sure what to do? Would I be willing to have Affodable housing nearby? I think I must say yes even though it may affect my home value. I want low priced food, so should I look away when illegal immigrants are hired by farmers to keep labor costs low? It’s a bit irritating that some people game the welfare system, but I think I have to say “oh well’ as I know some people need help. While Newsom has some issues, he seems to helping a lot of people. So on balance maybe I can find a way to help him do better.

  5. Mary Margaret Cunningham

    Your columns are awesome!! Thank you!!!It is like getting a breath of fresh air when I read them!!

  6. Comedy Central had a cute little satire show called “L’il Bush” that pilloried W but also took shots at Dems such as HRC & BHO.
    It had an opening tag line – “Democracy is the right to do as I say”, which so fits Governor GQ.

  7. I dont get why everyone that can leave doesnt.with you as a notable stay tough .I liken you to the brits against the the zulus at that hellish battle.semper fi

  8. Robert Markle

    I have wondered how a state that elected, as governor, Ronald Reagan, George Deukmejian, and Pete Wilson decides to elect leftists like Jerry Brown, Gray Davis, and Gavin Newsome. LSD in the drinking water, maybe??

    1. It’s simpler than that. California has often been cited as the trendsetter for America. The examples you cite are merely symptoms of the worse trends of all: greed, corruption, and the unbridled lust for power to enable and enhance the other two qualities. As Dr. Hanson often describes, California was once the land of milk and honey. Life just got too good for too many, and they rejected the values that allowed them to develop the riches of the land. A corrupt minority was allowed to seize and maintain power and it’s been downhill ever since. We see it happening now on a national level.

  9. Newsom is a contender in ‘24, why? If you’re 65 or over you’d vote for Charles Manson to preserve your Social welfare check. 40 and under needs no explanation. The rest of the voting bloc? Think the “Well, I read on twitter, facebook said, everyone on snapchat is saying, google clearly states” cohort and this is not to mention that the average “american” cares way more for a maternalistic “government” than they do about freedom or liberty…by orders of magnitude.
    Newsom is young, hip and attractive much like Obama and Clinton to boot.

  10. Victor.. I’m surprised. Those are Sequoia trees. Redwoods live out by the coast. Sadly, I noted you left out that Feinstein’s chauffeur is the communist spy. Feinstein’s own allegiance may still be to the USA… if she can remember where she lives. Nancy Pelosi, on the other side of the Capitol, falls to her knees and receives communion as a good Catholic girl on Sundays. Every other day she harrangues us about the abortion issue and how important it is to kill unwanted babies so the ladies can have their lives uninterrupted. No matter that even the ultra-left pope has refused her as a communicant. But maybe the Bishop that disregarded that ruling is related to the lately kicked-by-voters-to-the-curb Chesa Boudin.

    Have a good day Victor.

    1. You are half right and half wrong.

      Redwood is the English name for the genus, two species of which are common in California, the Giant (gigantis) and the other one, ” sempervirens” or ancient.
      The gigantis are the coastal ones, the old ones inland are the ones Victor is talking about. Both are species of the sequoia, or redwood. There are other species, the golden is rare but seen in Western Washington. Sequoia and redwood are interchangeable synonyms. The species are different, as are their natural ranges.
      From a guy who spent a lot of years around both.

  11. There is an election coming. Maybe, just maybe, Newsom will be ‘able’ to exit the Governor’s mansion.

  12. Robert O'Brien

    In the afterlife I will spend my time w VDH hoeing onions amidst sweet smelling CA earth, listening to him talk about nothing, and everything,. Later and afterwards, I will acknowledge the Lord….

  13. I moved to Mountain View in 1974, then to Menlo Park, then to San Francisco where I spent 25 of my 40 years in CA. What a great state it was, but it is a mess today, thanks to greedy career dishonest and often lawless Democrat politicians. They grow bureaucracies beyond their ability to function and they over pay its employees and over benefit them (and themselves) to financial destruction of the state as well as to its Constitutional Republic; unless you are one of the rich elites, you don’t stand a chance. I moved from CA just before it got really bad.

  14. In my head is the California of my late teens and early 20’s: Of surfing on my twin-fin surfboard on an un-crowed 4′ Huntington Cliffs day, $3 burrito meals at Del Taco, driving my Toyota Corolla that I bought 1 year old used for $2,000, working at the gas station for $6 an hour – double the minimum wage, beautiful Westwood Friday nights in the summer standing in line to see a movie premier and attending UCLA for only $500 a semester. But at the same time I did notice that the 5, 10, 101 and especially 405 were getting more congested with each passing year and the KTTV broadcast of a Black man named Rodney King being arrested by police for robbing a store and alluding police while drunk and high spelled the end of the Golden Age of L.A. and California forever. I guess change is inevitable but every time I go back to L.A. to visit my mom I just feel like I am in a third world, Latin American dictatorship. I have had several students in the college course I used to teach tell me that everything about the physical beauty in California is identical to parts Central and South America, but they tell me that paradise is lost when it becomes to crowded.

  15. Newsom is somwhat youngish, certainly not hip and definitely not attractive. Between Newsom, Jerry Brown and their minions they have wrecked havoc and destruction on this once beautiful state.

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