California’s No-Car Salesman


Why does California Gov. Gavin Newsom hate automobiles so much? It’s a question he’s unlikely to be asked in public. And one he’d not give an honest response to if he were. But it’s obvious – has been for years – that he’s hostile toward cars, and the media are noticing.

Recently, Politico saucily reported that “​​Gavin Newsom is coming for your car, and he wants you to know it.”

And below the headline: “The talked-about presidential contender is carving out an underutilized lane: climate crusader.”

It’s hardly an empty lane. In fact, politicians are constantly crashing into each other just to get in. But Newsom alone is taking the lane to “appearances from China to the Vatican, selling it as a winning issue beyond the borders of his deep-blue state.” He’s also “trying to recoup climate-related damages from oil giants and going after refiners’ profits,” which, if successful, would increase fuel prices, making driving more difficult than ever.

Politico says Newsom “leaned into his role as climate governor in 2020,” the year he bypassed the legislative process and issued an executive order that in effect outlawed the sales of new internal-combustion-engine cars by 2035. Apparently he was moved by “one of the worst in a series of climate-aggravated wildfire years for the state,” during a time “when residents were holed up during the Covid pandemic” – which Newsom was responsible for – “and skies turned orange with smoke amid a deep drought.”

According to Politico, advisers believe “the deadly wildfires marked a turning point for Newsom, who is a father of four.”

So a connection made by one man in regard to what are almost certainly unrelated events gives him the authority to tell 39 million how to live? Is that the way government works now, based on whim? Seems so, given that he is “coming for your car.”

We can hear someone say that, hey, EVs are cars, too. No argument there. They are cars by any description. But don’t be deceived. Pushing everyone into EVs, or, to use the official terminology, “zero-emission vehicles,” is not the ultimate goal. It’s a waypoint. The objective is to railroad as many Californians into public transit as possible and turn the personal car into a rarity.

If this were not the case, there would be no road diet to frustrate drivers to the point they will give up their automobiles. There would be no all-out effort to drain taxpayers of more of their dollars to save public transit. There would be no high-speed rail debacle.

But there is all of that, every element part of an agenda to advance progressive policies. Consumer preferences and private needs are subordinated to the will of the ruling class. Traffic engineering is replaced with social engineering, meaning the crisis created by government will do nothing but grow worse.

Newsom probably doesn’t hate cars themselves. We can see him gushing over Joe Biden’s green ’67 Corvette. Even indifference toward the icon that shows the Scranton, Pennsylvania, native is just an Ordinary Joe would be a political mistake. Newsom just seems hostile to what they represent: the greatest tool of freedom ever invented.

Oh, that story about the governor being “mesmerized by the growth of driverless cars” and believing the reorganization of the “entire transportation system” is coming “fast”? It fits. Those vehicles will be so much easier to tamper with and come under the boot of government than today’s autos. From speed restrictions to fuel allotments to nosy bureaucrats knowing the location history of every car, progressive politicians see in driverless vehicles a level of control that has so far eluded them.

Kerry Jackson is the William Clement Fellow in California Reform at the Pacific Research Institute.

Nothing contained in this blog is to be construed as necessarily reflecting the views of the Pacific Research Institute or as an attempt to thwart or aid the passage of any legislation.

Scroll to Top