In today’s Re-Open California #EndThe Lockdown protest in Sacramento, embattled Californians will circle the state Capitol in cars, trucks and on motorcycles. They might have assembled on the spacious grounds of the Capitol, as they did in January to protest Assembly Bill 5, which threatens Californians’ right to earn a living. By April, the California Highway Patrol was refusing to issue permits for events at any state properties, including the Capitol. As it happens, free speech and assembly are not the only constitutional rights Gov. Newsom is out to crush.
As it emerged Thursday, the governor intends to close all state beaches and parks. Gov. Newsom does not want thousands of Californians flocking to the beach, as they did the past weekend during a heat wave. So the freedom of movement also disturbs the San Francisco Democrat.
On Wednesday, Newsom told reporters “we believe we are weeks, not months, away from making meaningful modifications to that indicator,” a reference to his shelter-in-place order. Gov. Newsom did not explain what “modifications” he had in mind or when, exactly, he would make them. If Californians believe Newsom would keep the lockdown in place until, say, November 3 or beyond, it would be hard to blame them.
Solitary surfers have been arrested and Newsom’s mayor allies have set up a Stasi-style system that rewards informers. With the number of unemployed Californians approaching three million, Newsom signs a $1 billion deal with Chinese company BYD for 200 million masks a month, in a state of 40 million people.
While he boosts employment in China, Gov. Newsom maintains a lockdown that will doubtless shutter small businesses for good and deprive more Californians of their ability to earn a living. That is what state Democrats were doing before the coronavirus left Wuhan, China, and landed in California.
Last year, Gov. Newsom signed California Assembly Bill 5, by San Diego Democrat Lorena Gonzalez, a virtual declaration of war against independent contractors of all kinds. AB-5 is the first measure openly to oppose the professions Californians choose for themselves, the first measure to deny Californians their rights of free association, and the first measure to limit workers’ ability to earn a living.
The measure limits freelance writers, photographers and videographers to 35 submissions per publication, per year. AB-5 has also taken work from independent contractors in many fields including health care. The repressive measure is being challenged in the courts but legislators have declined to suspend it. With a pandemic damaging the state, 151 of California’s leading economists and political scientists, including Nobel laureate Vernon Smith of Chapman University, John Taylor of Stanford, Lee Ohanian of UCLA, and David Teece of UC Berkeley, sent an open letter to Gov. Newsom.
With employers not hiring, the 151 argued, gig workers could shoulder the many tasks needed to flatten out the effects of the temporary emergency. And as the signatories saw it, “AB-5 is doing substantial, and avoidable, harm to the very people who now have the fewest resources and the worst alternatives available to them,” so the measure should be suspended.
Such a sensible move would incur no costs and help countless workers get back on their feet. Even so, at this writing, Gov. Newsom has declined to suspend or “modify” the measure. So California workers could be forgiven for believing that, even as the coronavirus declines, Newsom will keep the lockdown in place. As Californians have noticed, the Democrats’ dapper Il Duce likes to dish but not take.
Katy Grimes of the California Globe cites Newsom’s “refusal to stand in front of media every day and answer the hard questions the way the President does.” Newsom conducts his briefings remotely and journalists must call in with questions. As Grimes explains, “not one reporter has asked him why healthy people are being quarantined. Not one reporter has asked the governor why he is depriving citizens of constitutional and civil rights. Not one has questioned the governor about the misuse of police to enforce depriving people of their civil rights.”
Chief among them is the right to protest, but now the governor has put the Capitol and all state property off limits. The Democrat Duce seems unaware of California’s long tradition of protest. As they take it to the streets, the state Capitol, and the beaches, the people of California will be watching carefully how the staatspolizei respond. The governor, for his part, has already made it clear what he’s about.
Back in March, when he announced the lockdown, Newsom thanked House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and gushed, “we are so blessed to have her leadership in California.” So behind the scenes Nancy is calling the shots, even as her one-time nephew by marriage is touted as a presidential contender in 2024.
In the meantime, Gavin Newsom previews what life would be like under the administration of just about any Democrat. As President Trump says, we’ll have to wait and see what happens.
* * *