Newsom to Californians: Let's face it, we're never getting back to normal

That’s a great message to send to a restive electorate after a year of fumbling the response to COVID-19. Gavin Newsom tried to get cute in his State of the State speech from an empty Dodger Stadium, pledging to deliver a New And Improved Normal, but it fell as flat as, well, Newsom’s entire gubernatorial career. Small wonder Californians want to push him out of office before the end of his term via an upcoming recall:

California Gov. Gavin Newsom will say during his State of the State address that the pandemic will end soon. But when it does, Newsom will say that “we’re not going back to normal” because “normal accepts inequity.”

That’s according to excerpts from Newsom’s speech that the governor’s office released Tuesday. The Democratic governor is scheduled to deliver the address at Dodger Stadium as he faces a likely recall election later this year, fueled by widespread anger over his handling of the pandemic. …

The governor further explained his comment that “normal accept inequity” by elaborating that inequity was the reason Latinos were dying from COVID at a higher rate over any other racial or ethnic group in the state, why the poor wages of essential workers’ are not enough to live on, and why the state has seen mothers leave the workforce in dramatic numbers.

How can anyone be this tone-deaf, especially while facing a recall? For a population locked down for almost a year, whose businesses have been destroyed and health wrecked, the status quo ante of February 2020 looks pretty damned good as a destination. The other issues can get solved when the emergency ends and people can get their normal lives back.

Leah Barkoukis rounds up some reaction on Twitter to Newsom’s remarks, which went over like a lead balloon. This response seems to be the most comprehensive, but it leaves out one key point:

“His draconian lockdowns have caused more inequity as the rich got richer and the poor got poorer,” one Twitter user said. “Minority owned businesses shuttered. His wealthy whites friends did just great. Minority communities devastated. How full of sh*t can one man be?”

Even taking Newsom at his intent, however, it raises the question as to why the old normal was sooooo iniquitous. Exactly who has been running things in California, anyway? Why, that would be Newsom himself, who took office two years ago in January 2019, well before the pandemic. Before that, fellow progressive Democrat Jerry Brown ran the state for eight years. Progressive Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger had eight years before that, and Gray Davis got almost five years in before getting the boot in the recall election that put Schwarzenegger in office. One has to go all the way back to the first week of 1999 to find Pete Wilson, a moderate-to-conservative Republican, in charge of the Golden State.

And what about the legislature? Democrats have held supermajorities in the legislature for more than a decade, and have held majorities in both chambers every year since 1996. The state’s two massive metropolises, Los Angeles and San Francisco, have been under progressive Democrat control for decades. Democrats control most of the smaller cities and towns in the state too. California is as one-party a state as it gets. Even Massachusetts elects Republicans to statewide office from time to time.

So how did California become such a den of inequality? Maybe Newsom can explain that during the recall election, but … it seems more likely that voters will be explaining that to Newsom instead. Too bad they won’t learn the real lesson and kick out its entire leadership class and start over again.