Atlantic Magazine: 'Gavin Newsom Is Not Governing'

April 23rd, 2023 1:54 PM

If you think the governor of the failing state of California, Gavin Newsom, has a lot of gall traveling to Red states to lecture them on what they are doing wrong, you are not alone. Disgust over Newsom's egregious political antics has even appeared in the liberal Atlantic magazine in an article on Friday by Conor Friedersdorf, "Gavin Newsom Is Not Governing." 

Ironically that was the very day that Newsom was forced to send National Guard troops into San Francisco in a desperate attempt to resolve the severe drug and homeless crises in that city that was allowed to fester for years.

Friedersdorf is not known as a Democrat -- he refused to vote for Obama in 2012 and spoke highly of Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson -- but this is still surprising from The Atlantic.

The subtitle of the story continues to express disgust with Newsom not governing: "Leading California is more than a full-time job––and neglecting it to do PR stunts in red states is frivolous and irresponsible."

During Gavin Newsom’s campaign to win another term as governor of California last year, I complained that rather than focusing on how to solve the Golden State’s many significant problems, the Democratic incumbent devoted much of his time and attention to heaping scorn on far-flung Republican counterparts, such as Texas Governor Greg Abbott and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. He went so far as to rent billboards and buy televised political advertisements in other states.

...He recently raised $10 million to spend not on the poor, or the sick, or the young and full of potential, but rather on the governing elite’s answer to slacktivism: a political action committee.

...On March 30, Newsom announced the new PAC, the Campaign for Democracy, in a video posted to his Twitter feed, where he argues that America’s ills are downstream of officials in states that the GOP controls. “The problem in our country right now: authoritarian leaders who are so hell-bent on gaining power and keeping it by whatever means necessary that they’re directly attacking our freedoms in state after state,” he declared. “That’s why I’m launching the Campaign for Democracy. We’re going on the road to take the fight to states where freedom is most under attack.”

Taking “the fight to” authoritarians turns out to mean staging PR events in their jurisdictions..... But why? Newsom has no political power in those states. He is so sufficiently unpopular among their voters that his presence there is as likely to help as hurt GOP governors. And, most important, his travels are a dereliction of the job he sought and won, because governors have a responsibility to focus on the problems that afflict their own state.

And in Newsom's case, his dereliction of the job has progressed to the point that he has been forced to send the National Guard into the apocalyptic drug hell hole that San Francisco has become during his watch.

The claim that “the problem in our country” is authoritarian Republicans in red states may be a good line if you’re a California Democrat seeking applause from a friendly audience or donations from your political base. But it elides all of the problems that afflict deep-blue jurisdictions.

California urgently needs a governor who focuses on its many problems, not the problems of the Deep South. And nothing any California governor says will tilt the country toward embracing their model of governance more than demonstrating that, rather than rising rents, rising homelessness, rising crime and disorder, and failing schools, their approach improves a state. If Newsom can’t improve on his current performance, he doesn’t deserve a future in politics.

A sad note to California native Friedersdorf: if Joe Biden declines to seek re-election whether by choice or for other reasons, the non-governing Newsom is currently considered by many Democrats as a likely candidate to replace him on the 2024 presidential ballot.