Blue State Blues: Voters Are Furious About Afghanistan, and California Is Their First Opportunity

California Gov. Gavin Newsom speaks to the media after he toured the North Complex Fire zone in Butte County on Friday, Sept. 11, 2020, outside of Oroville, Calif. Gov. Gavin Newsom toured the fire-ravaged region Friday and strongly asserted that climate change was evident and pledged to redouble efforts to …
Paul Kitagaki Jr./The Sacramento Bee via AP, Pool

All politics is local, and conservative talk radio host Larry Elder wisely stuck to local issues when making his pitch to voters in the San Fernando Valley this week.

But when I had a chance to interview him backstage, Elder made clear he understood the link between President Joe Biden’s ongoing failure in Afghanistan, and Governor Gavin Newsom’s inability to deal with the many crises facing California.

Two Democratic administrations, linked by their incompetence.

Actually, it’s worse than that.

When reporters asked Newsom what he thought of Biden’s pullout from Afghanistan, several days into the disaster, he said he was “incredibly proud” of Biden.

Perhaps he was following the White House’s own talking points.

As recently as Wednesday, the Biden administration was telling the world that it deserved more credit for the airlift of Afghan civilians, and several thousand U.S. citizens, out of Kabul — which Biden said before would not be necessary.

Or perhaps Newsom is hanging onto the president for dear life, hoping Biden’s approval ratings in the state — likely fading fast — will save him.

It’s not that voters opposed the withdrawal. It’s the way it was done — and the way Biden seems to have embraced defeat.

Newsom, too, seems to have given up on the state’s most pressing problems.Vice President Kamala Harris was supposed to stump for him on Friday, at a car rally in the Bay Area, before the terror attacks in Afghanistan.

Car rallies were supposed to be a thing of the past. Newsom’s rally — where attendees, sitting in their cars, were to show proof of vaccination — would have reminded voters that Democrats have failed to stop the pandemic, as promised.

True, Newsom could have been worse.

Unlike Gov. Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan, he did not shut down the (largely outdoor) construction industry. Unlike the disgraced Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York, he canceled an order to put coronavirus patients in nursing homes, and he did not waste much time taking potshots at the Trump administration.

What grates on voters the most about Newsom’s approach to the pandemic is that he exemplified the way the rich elites of the Democratic Party disobeyed the rules they set for everyone else.

He dined at the French Laundry with lobbyists, after issuing guidelines against eating in restaurants. He sent his kids to in-person private school, while public school kids struggled with Zoom lessons from home. He kept his own winery open even as he forced other California wineries to close.

The argument for Newsom — like Gov. Jerry Brown (D) before him — was that he was the “adult in the room,” that he was the only Democrat able to manage the state.

He showed some signs of that in the early weeks of his administration, canceling the high-speed rail boondoggle (before reviving it, thanks to Biden and transportation secretary Pete Buttigieg.)

But Newsom failed to fix the state’s broken unemployment benefits system, leaving desperate Californians in the lurch. He also chased left-wing utopian dreams while ignoring concrete, everyday problems. In the midst of electricity blackouts last summer, he told Californians they needed to “sober up” about green energy — then banned gas-fueled cars, effective 2035.

Faced with an urgent problem like wildfires, he tells Californians to wait for climate change to be fixed. On homelessness and crime, which are exploding, he has abandoned his own liberal, urbane voting base to deal with the dangers themselves.

He has turned his back on them — just as Biden has turned his back on Americans in Afghanistan.

Newsom, like Biden, governs in retreat. And voters are tired of it.

Elder told me Tuesday that he believed some voters would turn out against Newsom to protest Biden’s incompetence in Afghanistan. They feel abandoned by the “best and the brightest.”

They are not willing to wait until 2022, or 2024, to be heard.

September 14th is their unique chance to cast a vote of no confidence in the nation’s Democratic elite. And they intend to seize it.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He is the author of the recent e-book, Neither Free nor Fair: The 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. His recent book, RED NOVEMBER, tells the story of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary from a conservative perspective. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.

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