On September 23, California Gov. Gavin Newsom issued Executive Order N-79-20 proclaiming: “It shall be a goal of the State that 100 percent of in-state sales of new passenger cars and trucks will be zero-emission by 2035.”
As the late Gene Wilder said in The Producers, you can only have 100 percent of anything. So in 15 years in California, the governor wants to ban all sales of the gasoline powered cars and trucks California workers now depend on. The governor didn’t say how the millions of new electric cars would be charged, in a state where the “rolling blackouts” of 2001 are now staging a comeback. On the other hand, Gov. Newsom did explain his reason for the edict.
“The climate change crisis is happening now,” Newsom proclaimed, and “the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the entire transportation sector.” The governor thus deploys two crises to limit the choices of a population whose constitutional rights and freedoms he has already restricted. Newsom’s ban on singing and chanting in churches strikes at the First Amendment.
As the California Globe reported, Newsom also formed “multi-agency strike teams” to enforce the restrictions, and threatened counties with a loss of state funds if they fail to comply. In similar style, Executive Order N-79-20 is bad news for the people but good news for government bureaucrats.
The State Air Resources Board, the Energy Commission, Public Utilities Commission and other relevant State agencies, “shall use existing authorities to accelerate deployment of affordable fueling and charging options for zero-emission vehicles, in ways that serve all communities and in particular low-income and disadvantaged communities . . .” And the Air Resources Board and PUC “shall update the biennial statewide assessment of zero-emission vehicle infrastructure.”
The Labor and Workforce Development Agency and the Office of Planning and Research, in consultation with the Department of Finance and other State agencies, “shall develop by July 15, 2021 and expeditiously implement a Just Transition Roadmap.”
The California Environmental Protection Agency and the California Natural Resources Agency, in consultation with the Office of Planning and Research, the Department of Finance, the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development and other local and federal agencies, “shall develop strategies, recommendations and actions by July 15, 2021 to manage and expedite the responsible closure and remediation of former oil extraction sites as the State transitions to a carbon-neutral economy.”
The Department of Conservation’s Geologic Energy Management Division and other relevant State agencies “shall strictly enforce bonding requirements and other regulations to ensure oil extraction operators are responsible for the proper closure and remediation of their sites.” And so on, but there’s a lot more going on here than empowerment for bureaucrats.
As Angelo Codevilla explains, before fascism became the left’s favorite epithet against conservatives, it was a political movement in Italy centering on state power. Benito Mussolini accepted the administrative state as the essence of modernity and proclaimed “the bureaucracy is the state.” The autocratic Newsom seems comfortable with that vision, and his executive order on cars recalls Esposito, the revolutionary dictator of San Marcos in Woody Allen’s 1971 Bananas.
“I am your new president,” Esposito proclaims. “From this day on, the official language of San Marcos will be Swedish. In addition to that, all citizens will be required to change their underwear every half hour. Underwear will be worn on the outside so we can check. Furthermore, all children under 16 years old, are now 16 years old.”
In similar style, California declares illegal foreign nationals to be U.S. citizens, and even pays for their health care. People must not sing in church, and the governor’s “strike teams” will be checking. After 2035 all new car and truck sales will be zero emission vehicles, but in 2020 Newsom can’t even keep the lights on. This utopian executive order covers up Newsom’s incompetence but also exposes his agenda. If embattled Californians thought it looked like fascism it would be hard to blame them.
As Codevilla explains, Mussolini saw resemblance to fascism in FDR’s New Deal because “it no longer allows economic forces to run according to their own nature.” Mussolini also published a glowing review of New Frontiers, by U.S. Agriculture Secretary Henry Wallace, who would become FDR’s vice president.
For the nation’s highest office, the governor California is the ideal candidate. From the start of his career, Gavin Newsom has been bankrolled by eight of San Francisco’s “first families,” including the Gettys, and this financial aristocracy surely had more in mind than a mayor or governor. As George Skelton notes in the Los Angeles Times, California is the state with the biggest blocs of convention delegates and electoral votes, so governors “have long had their eye on the White House.” Gavin Newsom wasn’t ready this year, but if Trump wins reelection, Skelton says, “the Oval Office would be open in 2024.”
In the meantime, Newsom’s plans doubtless preview what Democrats seek for the entire country. As president Trump likes to say, we’ll have to see what happens.