What to Expect If the 2024 Election Is Trump vs. Newsom

It is, of course, impossible to predict who will win the Democratic and Republican nominations for the presidency in 2024. With 27 months to go, nobody saw Bill Clinton coming, or Barack Obama, or Donald Trump. Black swan events (2020) and dark horse candidates (1996, 2008, 2016) are the rule, not the exception. But if one must make a prediction today, Donald Trump versus Gavin Newsom would be a good bet.

The matchup would present a challenge for conservatives. The weight of every powerful American institution would be even more devoted to crushing a Trump candidacy this time, and the pressure on independents and even Republicans to disavow Trump will be unrelenting. 

And yet the alternative, Gavin Newsom, is unthinkable. He would do to America what he’s done to California.

The reasons California succeeds at all in the 21st century are in spite of Newsom, not because of him. It has the best weather on earth, a diverse economy, tech leadership, and an infrastructure built in the 1950s and 1960s which, though strained nearly to the breaking point by 30 years of negligence, still provides enough of a foundation to support 40 million residents.

Newsom’s legacy offers nothing that builds on the impressive accomplishments of previous generations of Californians. His political partners are public sector unions, who collect and spend over $1 billion in dues every year and use it to enforce single party rule, along with “green” nonprofits that wield staggering wealth and influence, along with generous political spending by leftist tech billionaires. With the full support of the media, on and offline, this is an irresistible political force. And everything they’re doing has been a disaster.

Instead of building new reservoirs, repairing the aqueducts, approving desalination plants, upgrading the freeways, and developing California’s abundant natural resources, in the name of protecting the environment, Californians have their energy and water rationed, infrastructure spending is denied so more budget can be allocated to public sector pay and benefits, an impractical if not useless “bullet train” project consumes tens of billions of dollars, and California’s last nuclear power plant is scheduled to be decommissioned at least 40 years before its service life ends.

Instead of reviving California’s timber industry, which has been reduced to one-quarter the harvests of only 30 years ago, Californians have to import lumber at great expense from British Colombia. Instead of approving modern and safe extraction of California’s plentiful reserves of oil and natural gas, Californians have to import oil from Venezuela, and are systematically outlawing use of natural gas. Instead of exporting food to a world engulfed in a food crisis, California’s farmers are being destroyed as millions of water-starved acres are being taken out of cultivation.

When mismanaged forests burn because they’re overgrown and overcrowded, the unusual intensity of the burns is not correctly attributed to the unprecedented density of dry trees and tinder, but instead blamed on climate change, and Newsom’s answer isn’t to bring back the logging industry, but rather to outlaw gasoline engines in new cars.

There’s no end to California’s madness, and the irony that must not be missed is how this deliberately engineered scarcity benefits the biggest corporations and investors, who reap windfall profits when prices double and triple for everything they produce. Competitors are driven off by regulations that only companies with strong balance sheets and huge economies of scale can withstand.

To adequately chronicle Newsom’s feckless destruction of opportunities for ordinary Californians would require volumes. The teachers union has ruined public education. The “renewables” industry, importing wind turbines from Germany and solar panels from China, has made energy unreliable, unaffordable, and unsustainable. The housing market, crippled by overregulation, delayed and denied permits, and excessive costs for building materials, has driven people out of the state, or onto the streets, or into near poverty as they struggle to pay their rent and their mortgages.

Among all the major states in America, California has the highest rate of economic inequality, the highest numbers of homeless, the highest taxes, crime-ridden cities, and district attorneys that won’t prosecute criminals. Rather than face any of this dysfunction, Newsom and his cohorts bloviate over issues of equity, diversity, and inclusion, along with climate change, and deride their critics as bigots and “deniers.” Gavin Newsom owns all of this and more, and yet, by today’s reckoning, he is the best the Democrats can do.

And then there’s Donald Trump. If he runs, absent an extraordinary and unforeseen event, he will win the nomination. Trump’s followers are too numerous for any GOP rival to overtake him. But the polarizing impact of a Trump candidacy is difficult to contemplate.

The New York Times’ Bret Stephens last month published a semi-encouraging column, in which he apologized for denigrating Trump supporters. But while he displays considerable if belated empathy and respect for the Trump voter, Stephens has nothing to say about Trump’s policies, which remain the primary reason Trump attracted 63 million votes in 2016 and 74 million votes in 2020.

Trump is the polar opposite of anti-growth Newsom. If reelected, he would revive the policies of his first term to galvanize American manufacturing, energy production, housing construction, resource extraction, and law enforcement. His policies would adhere to common sense, instead of green fantasies promoted by special interests that profit from scarcity. Trump would also have the temerity to broker peace accords in the world.

Newsom, on the other hand, would never presume to do anything as president that he wasn’t told to do by his handlers. He would not hesitate to sleepwalk America into yet another endless war. Instead of reinvesting to regain the deterrence of technological supremacy in strategic weaponry—to avoid war—additional trillions will be spent in tactical conflicts. Here too, Trump’s policies are preferable for Americans, as well as for every other peace-loving human being on planet Earth.

Those of us watching this institutional, multi-front assault on reason, on prosperity, on harmony, and on peace itself, have to wonder what madness has possessed America’s elites and roughly half of a brainwashed nation. Perhaps the biggest mystery of all is why Trump had to come along to expose this rot. Where was every other national politician? Why were they silent? Thank God there is a populist movement at last to restore sanity to American politics.

Trump is not Newsom, nor is Trump any of the other cowardly clones that sadly describe most establishment politicians in both parties. We’d all love it if a leader came along with Trump’s policies and Trump’s courage, combined with Ronald Reagan’s unassailable charm and decorum. But at this dance, we only get two partners to choose from. If you want to make America great again, or, for that matter, if you want to just make America affordable again, it’s not a difficult choice.

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About Edward Ring

Edward Ring is a senior fellow of the Center for American Greatness. He is also the director of water and energy policy for the California Policy Center, which he co-founded in 2013 and served as its first president. Ring is the author of Fixing California: Abundance, Pragmatism, Optimism (2021) and The Abundance Choice: Our Fight for More Water in California (2022).

Photo: SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images

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