Gavin the Good - and the Rest of Us
Gavin Newsom is the photogenic governor of California. He is known for his outbursts of selective moral indignation and also for his unfiltered elitism. In the words of satirist Kevin Nelson, Newsom is “the P.T. Barnum of masking, vaccines, boosters, lockdowns, and arbitrary mandates for all those who do not think like him.”
It is, then, not entirely surprising that a man who has forbidden state-paid travel to no less than 22 states that have enacted so-called “anti-LGBTQ” legislation traveled to one of them, Montana, for a vacation. Apparently, it is perfectly acceptable for California’s chief law enforcement official to travel to a state he regards as morally backward as long as he pays for it with personal funds.
However, when asked if the state was paying for its governor’s security while in Big Sky country, Newsom’s press aide Anthony York hid behind the shield of state secrecy: “We don’t comment or provide details on the governor’s security.” That’s not unreasonable. Nor is it forthcoming.
What’s Montana’s problem, according to Newsom and the state’s other critics? It has enacted a measure “requiring public school athletic teams to be designated based on biological sex.” And Montana even insists that birth certificates have to reflect one’s biological rather than preferred sex. Why? Because, as cited in Montana’s rule on the issue, “‘Sex’ is a biological classification encoded in our DNA … Each cell is either male or female, depending on whether you are a man or a woman.” That’s a definition provided by the National Institutes of Health’s Office of Research on Women’s Health, managed by the federal Department of Health and Human Services.
Such radicalism! The NIH must be conspiring with Montana to destroy the lives of girl athletes who want to compete as — well, girls. Oh, the evil lengths to which those monsters in Helena will go!
His Montana adventure is not the first time Newsom has held himself to a different standard than we, the great unwashed. In late 2020, at the peak of the COVID crisis, Newsom and “First Partner” Jennifer Siebel Newsom attended a dinner at “one of the world’s most exclusive restaurants,” the French Laundry in Yountville, California.
A brief look at the restaurant’s daily menu makes the mouth water, but would make most of our wallets ache — prices are not listed, a hint they are so high as to be out of reach for all but a relative few. In one sense, there’s nothing wrong with this. People of substantial means have the right to eat where and what they want.
What is maddening is that this took place during a time of great economic duress for millions of Californians and, of course, that the Newsoms went to a dinner (for a major California lobbyist) while the government was discouraging people from holding traditional family Thanksgiving gatherings.
Similarly, the Newsoms decided to send their children back to an exclusive private school even as “many schools across the state remain shuttered due to Covid-19 — including nearly all public schools in Sacramento County where the governor lives.” Again, there’s nothing wrong with private education for one’s children. What’s wrong is the double standard that seems to characterize the Newsoms’ lifestyle.
Interestingly, Newsom seems to have a special affection for that great defender of human rights, China. For example, he signed a deal with the Chinese firm BYD to provide roughly $1 billion worth of face masks during the height of the COVID emergency. This, despite BYD’s “history of supplying allegedly faulty products to the U.S., ties to the Chinese military and Communist Party, and possible links to forced labor.”
And, too, while Montana is disdained by California’s governing elite, China is perhaps the state’s biggest trading partner ($146 billion in 2021). However, the Golden State’s governor appears to be strangely silent concerning the communist regime’s crackdown on people identifying as LGBT and their public activities. Evidently, moral indignation ends at the border’s edge.
Rob Schwarzwalder is Senior Lecturer in Regent University's Honors College.