The Revival of Self-Government in California


All year, Gavin Newsom has screamed at Californians some variation of this tweet:

Yes, do vote. That’s self-evident. The franchise is the lynchpin of democracy.

But voting in itself wasn’t the great American innovation. Self-government was. And Californians know all too well that once you vote, Newsom will say “see you in two years” and do everything possible to deny you any part in our civic life.

For years our politicians have dismantled the architecture of self-government, brick by brick. But this year, the entire edifice came crashing down, leaving the people of California trapped in the rubble.

That’s the story of the Newsom Autocracy. His State of Emergency has taken a progressive project long in the making – the end of civic republicanism – and accomplished it all at once.

  • For years, local communities have lost ever more power to Sacramento. This year, they lost everything to a single person.
  • For years, state bureaucracies have grown larger and more controlling. This year, they’ve all but taken over our lives.
  • For years, special interests have captured a majority of legislators. This year, they’ve just instructed the Governor to do their bidding.

This is what Newsom meant when he celebrated COVID-19 as the dawning of “a new progressive era” and “an opportunity to reshape the way we do business and how we govern.”

After this election, defeating Gavin Newsom will become the highest political imperative in California, if not nationally. But that means more than placing a new occupant in the Governor’s office.

Rejecting the Newsom Autocracy is about reviving self-government. It’s about returning power to local institutions, where public participation is most meaningful.

It’s about revitalizing citizenship and rejuvenating communities, so Californians are no longer subjects of state power but once again authors of our own political destiny.

So yes, vote on Tuesday. But the real fight for California – for a new birth of freedom in the Golden State – lies ahead of us.

Help me get across the finish line

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