Democrats Should Really Take Gavin Newsom’s Advice

The California governor’s advice to Democrats may be him just testing out future presidential campaign themes and sloganeering, but they should still take it.

Photo by Manny Becerra on Unsplash

Over the weekend, California Governor Gavin Newsom repeated previous criticism of his Democratic Party — that it is “getting crushed” by Republicans due to them allowing the opposing party to “dominate with illusion.”

Newsom made the accusation while speaking at the Texas Tribune Festival in Austin, Texas. He did have nice words for party leaders such as President Joe Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. In the case of President Joe Biden’s first two years in office, Newsom argued they have been “a master class … on substance and policy.” Unfortunately, good governance is not enough to win elections — adding that “otherwise Biden would be at 75% approval.”

I don’t know about a “master’s class” given he’s done nothing about police killing Black people besides give them more money and holler about “fund the police, not defund the police” whenever it suits him, but I guess he’s been on a roll legislately lately.

Newsom is correct about the role governance has not had on the polls, though.

According to a new poll from ABC News/The Washington Post, thirty-nine percent of Americans approve of his job performance while 53% disapprove. When it comes to Biden’s performance on the economy specifically, his approval rating is 36% while 57% disapprove. With inflation near a 40-year high and being a global issue, the figures are unsurprising albeit no less problematic for the party and its leader.

However, Newsom argues, the way to counter Republican attacks is to abandon past mantras like “when they go low, we go high” employed famously by former First Lady Michelle Obama.

As he sees it, “that’s not the moment we’re living in right now.”

In my thirty something years on this planet, not once can I recall us ever living in that moment.

It was a nice bar, but while her husband represented hope and change, they were met with vitriol for eight years.

It’s not so much that Republicans have changed; they’ve only gotten even nastier with time thanks to cable news and the internet.

“These guys are ruthless on the other side,” Newsom explained. “Where are we? Where are we organizing, bottom up, a compelling alternative narrative? Where are we going on the offense every single day? They’re winning right now.”

Yes, because in addition to better messaging, conservatives own television stations and networks.

In response, Newsom says he’s spending millions of dollars from his own campaign to run TV ads in Florida and Texas to criticize GOP policies on issues like abortion and gun laws.

“The reason we’re doing those ads is because … the Democratic Party needs to be doing more of it,” Newsom said.

For all the talk about the GOP blowing its chances, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has reportedly recently expressed cautious optimism about retaking control at closed-door remarks to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Back in August, McConnell publicly downplayed expectations for winning the majority — making the prediction in mid-August that the House is more likely than the Senate to change hands.

And while projections for Republican gains in the House have shrunken in recent months, they’re still predicted to win control as of now.

Newsom is not wrong to worry his party is being “crushed.”

Some of that might be rooted in the apparent overstatement of Democratic support in recent polling, but I believe Newsom is correct in his assessments about the party’s issue with allowing Republicans to consistently dominate the narrative.

To the credit of Biden, he has at least finally described Republican behavior as “semi-fascist,’ and thankfully, he has not apologized for it.

However, that’s not enough to beat what Newsom describes as the “propaganda machines” of Fox News’ primetime lineup and Newsmax and the “anger industry” that surrounds them.

It needs to be drilled into the minds of voters what the GOP seeks to do in the coming years should they regain control of Congress and the White House.

Maybe even stop going on Fox News since it’s helping a racist, sexist party try and drag society backwards for profit.

“They want to bring us back to the pre-1960s,” Newsom said. “We have to wake up to it…. We have to meet this moment head on, and damn it, the Democratic Party has to assert itself much more aggressively than we have.”

Biden not only needs to repeat this sentiment from now until the end of his political career, but he should also publicly advise his party members to stop elevating GOP crazies in various political races.

I think it confuses people to hear Dems on MSNBC whine about democracy being in peril and then boosting a candidate who believes Donald Trump is akin to Jesus.

The GOP is using bigotry and anger to stoke its base; Democrats have a reason to express righteous indignation, but struggle to properly express contempt and outrage in an effort to warn voters of what’s at stake.

At least voters seem to be understanding that on their own.

Per a new poll from CBS News, two-thirds of voters feel their rights and freedoms are very much at stake in this election — more so even than their financial well. Problem is, each side feels if the opposition gained control of Congress, people like them would have fewer rights and freedoms than they do now. Only one side is correct in this assertion but the wrong team thus far has the better sales pitch.

Biden says he’s not sure if he’s running for president, but he should worry the decision might soon be out of his hands.

In that ABC News/Washington Post poll, only 35% of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents favor Biden for the 2024 nomination; 56% want the party to pick someone else.

In spite of his lecturing to Democrats, Newsom says he is not running for president in 2024.

If Biden’s number don’t change, even if Newsom hasn’t been a perfect governor, he might finally stop pretending he doesn’t want to be the next president in a few years.

He’s already got a winning message.

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Michael Arceneaux

New York Times bestselling author of “I Can’t Date Jesus” and “I Don’t Want To Die Poor.” Houstonian.