Gavin Newsom

Ryan P. Williams

In his recent “State of the State” speech, California Governor Gavin Newsom extolled the virtues, compassion, and justice of what he called “The California Way.” For those familiar with the public policy of California under Newsom’s tenure and his predecessor’s, The California Way amounts to re-distributive programmatic liberalism on bread-and-butter issues like education, welfare, and housing; standard-issue ideological leftism on issues like identity politics, “social justice,” and abortion; and job-destroying environmental fanaticism aimed at the agricultural, manufacturing, homebuilding, and energy sectors.

Given these trends and Democrat priorities in recent years, California has become a great place to raise a family, but only if you collect a high-six or seven-figure annual income from the entertainment, tech, or financial sector; are a member of a public employee union with lavish health and retirement benefits; or are part of California’s highest per-capita poor population. If you’re a member of the middle or working classes, the prerequisites for thriving families are harder and harder to achieve. High housing costs and the disappearance of good blue-collar jobs are driving a mass exodus-of-the-middle out of California. Just look at the numbers: despite its large population of illegal immigrants, after the 2020 census California will for the first time in its history lose a congressional seat. Families are flocking to more dynamic, lower-cost, and low-unemployment states like Florida, Arizona, and Texas. For the many families and individuals voting with their feet, the California Way leads to the nearest highway out of town.

Gavin Newsom likes to boast of the growing GDP of California, but such abstract and aggregate data hide a sobering fact for members of and aspirants to the traditional American family: Newsom, his party, and his policies in California are materially and ideologically aligned against the interests of thriving families. And what happens in California doesn’t stay in California — all of this, and more, is coming to a blue or purple state near you. While high unemployment and living costs are certainly barriers to flourishing families, the most morally and materially corrosive threats to the family under Newsom are education and COVID policy.

Since 2015, the main vehicle for the importation of cultural liberalism on matters of sex, sexual “identity,” gender, “gender expression,” homosexuality, and abortion has been the California Healthy Youth Act, passed when Newsom was Lieutenant Governor to Jerry Brown. As Governor, Newsom signed Assembly Bill 101 on October 8, 2021, adding racial identity politics education on top of existing “sex” education. The bill mandates an “ethnic studies” course for all public (including charter) high school students. Parents with a keen eye for evolving educational trends will recognize this euphemism. The “ethnic studies” requirement will ensure the latest ‘critical social justice’ fads of the education schools have a direct and unassailable line into K-12 education in California. The result will be ideological propaganda masquerading as an “inclusive” history of California. Students will be told a story about past oppressors and past oppressed, with skin color and ethnic identity as the essential and unquestionable dividing line of the morality tale.

Perhaps most egregious of all of Newsom’s assaults on CA families was his COVID response. Acting under indefinite “emergency” powers, Newsom and state executive officials stole two years of normal life from the children of California, shuttering schools and mandating unnecessary vaccines at the behest of the teachers’ unions. For many CA families and children, this rolling trauma and deficit in intellectual and social development will never be erased. The hysterical, authoritarian, and anti-science response of Newsom’s administration to COVID should destroy any trust rational citizens, let alone mothers and fathers, have in California’s super-majority political party.

The “California Way” means prohibitively high housing costs; anti-American, racialized, and excessively sexualized indoctrination in education; rapidly rising energy and food prices; and a Damoclean “public health” sword wielded by Governor Newsom and his unelected and often incompetent bureaucrats. Conservative, liberty-loving, and traditional families living outside of California ought to avoid it at all costs. Those parents unlucky enough to reside here currently ought to flee. And all patriotic and pro-family Americans should closely track the latest leftwing trends on family policy emanating from California. Gavin Newsom’s California does have one virtue: it’s an early warning system for moral corruption and civilizational decline.

  • Ryan P. Williams

    Prior to becoming president in 2017, Mr. Williams held positions at the Claremont Institute as Chief Operating Officer, Director of Programs, Director of Special Projects, Assistant Director of Programs, and Research Assistant. He has taught American politics and political philosophy as an adjunct professor at California State University, San Bernardino and Cal Poly Pomona. A 2004 Publius Fellow of the Claremont Institute, Mr. Williams holds a B.A. in Political Science and Economics from Hillsdale College and an M.A. in Politics from Claremont Graduate University. He is publisher of the Claremont Review of Books and The American Mind.

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