Issues & Insights

California Gov. Newsom Releases His Political Prisoners

June 15 should be celebrated as the Golden State Independence Day. On this date, more than 15 long months after he issued his first imperial order limiting the movements of an ostensibly free people, Gov. Gavin Newsom reopened the state. “Never Again” should replace “Eureka” on the Great Seal of California as a reminder of the misery inflicted by the governor.

It’s arguable that no other state was more restrictive during the coronavirus pandemic. WalletHub ranked California 45th in “fewest COVID-19 restrictions.” But because California has, at nearly 40 million, more residents than the five states (and District of Columbia) that were more restrictive, a case can be made that its lockdown rules were more stringent since they affected a greater number of people.

Newsom, sued 55 times by Californians who felt they had been unfairly bound by his commandments, took a heavy-handed approach to the coronavirus outbreak. Columnist Steven Greenhut observed as early as May of last year that Newsom was acting as the “King of Sacramento” and Californians had little choice but to serve at his pleasure.

Last fall, a San Diego television weatherman dressed up as “King Newsom,” a -let-’em-eat-cake emperor who explained the state’s rules for private gatherings during the holidays. Over the course of the pandemic, the governor was variously, and not without reason, called a “tyrant,” an “out-of-touch elite,” a “narcissist,” and likened to an autocrat.

Just weeks into the lockdowns, when many thought we’d already seen the worst of the politicians’ behavior, and had burned through far more than 15 days to “flatten the curve,” at least one (mask-free) protester in Sacramento held a sign that read: “Thanks for the expensive seven-week trial of communism, I’d like to have my liberty back now.”

Yet long before May 2020 was over, Newsom had issued “39 executive orders, unilaterally changing 200 laws spanning most sections of the California code.”

While not criticizing Newsom directly, University of California-San Francisco infectious disease expert Dr. Monica Gandhi pointed out in December that the state was unique in that the “lockdown came off as arbitrary and not data driven.” She also mentioned that unlike other states, the California “system was quite strict and didn’t allow” “economic relief and social relief in between waves” of the outbreak.

Even as Newsom has lifted the color-coded tier system that had for months dictated people’s lives, to say the state is fully reopening Tuesday is misleading. The governor is retaining his emergency powers (in case he decides to reinstate his rules), and the state is also requiring the unvaccinated to continue to wear masks, treating them as if they’re lepers, assuming they’re sick without evidence. This, in a country where in criminal law people are presumed innocent until proved guilty.

We expect the Corona Bros to insist that Newsom saved lives with his strict lockdown. Just think how many more would have become sick, how many more would have died, had the governor not acted as he did.

To which all of California should respond: Pfft! The lockdowns were counterproductive, the mask mandates useless at best. Sweden, “a stubborn dissenter that refused lockdowns, mask mandates and contact tracing,” according to Dr. Eyal Shahar, a University of Arizona professor emeritus of public health, makes the case.

“The lockdowns and panic were unsubstantiated, prevented nothing, and caused indescribable damage to society. Sweden’s statistics tell us, unequivocally, that in much of the world lives have been lost and livelihoods have been destroyed – in vain,” says Shahar, who has the data to prove his claim at this link.

We can even look at comparisons in our own country. Seven-day moving averages of infection rates peaked at 114 cases per 100,000 in California, but only 82 in Florida and 79 in Texas, states that had far fewer restrictions and mandates, and reopened much earlier than California. Deaths peaked at 1.72 per 100,000 in California, 1.21 in Texas, and 0.86 in Florida. 

Newsom said from the beginning that his decisions were going to follow the science. But it’s obvious he reopened on his terms, meaning Democratic, Blue State politics, which are set up to rob us of our liberties, demand unquestioning conformity to the ruling class’ whims, and always apply more more more government to crowd out private lives. And if those politics require the taking of prisoners, then in Newsom’s political world, that’s just the way it goes.

— Written by the I&I Editorial Board

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I & I Editorial Board

The Issues and Insights Editorial Board has decades of experience in journalism, commentary and public policy.


  • Interesting how a recall of the tyrant has lead to some lock down restrictions being lifted. He still hasn’t given up his emergency powers and the leftist extremist legislature won’t take them from him. Never again is right!

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