Nine Words That Confirm California's Sharp Left Turn Toward Authoritarianism
By now it’s widely known that California is cracking down on plastic — bags and straws — as if they were existential threats. It's virtue signaling gone wild as cities race to outlaw plastic straws because banning plastic bags just wasn't enough. It was at the one of the more recent book burnings, rather, make that plastic straw bannings, that we were told what many of us already know: The "progressive" left in California won't rest until it has established authoritarian control over everyone's lives. The inadvertent announcement was delivered by Santa Barbara City Councilman Jason Dominguez. During the July session in which the City Council voted 6-1 to ban plastic straws and allow plastic stirrers and cutlery to be used only when it is requested by customers, the Democrat said "We have to regulate every aspect of people's lives." His reasoning? "Unfortunately, common sense is just not common." Get the new IBD Politics & Opinion newsletter! Reaction to Dominguez's statement caused him to later say he was sorry for issuing a "string of words in a rhetorical fashion about regulation." The "string," he said, was "not taken as rhetorical and that's my fault so I want to apologize." The statement doesn't need to be apologized for. It needs to be explained. Why would a lawmaker say "We have to regulate every aspect of people's lives" if he didn't really mean to . . . regulate every aspect of people's lives? Dominguez is not a lone tyrant crying in the wilderness of coastal California. This state is filled with politicians who want to regulate, manage, supervise, subjugate, and muzzle the nearly 40 million everyday people of the state. Don't think so? Consider the following evidence: No state restrains commerce with the same degree of enthusiasm that California does. Doing business in California is possible only the right permits, licensing, approvals, and compliance are in hand. Few states tax as punitively as California does. California has the most restrictive gun laws in the country. The free-speech movement began at the University of California in the 1960s, but California lawmakers today want to establish speech codes. The freedom to practice religion is threatened. Some have complained that Fourth Amendment protections are in danger. California's rural residents feel so strongly that they are being tyrannized by left-wing coastal elitists that many want to split off from the rest of the state. Gov. Jerry Brown is an advocate for the "the coercive power of the central state." The animating force behind that advocacy, according to Chapman University professor Joel Kotkin, is a hunger for the state "to gain control over virtually every aspect of planning and development." Sacramento is planning to force a full transition away from fossil fuels. According to the Cato Institute, only one state allows its residents less freedom than California. The Golden State's Heavy Hand As Kotkin has pointed out, "state governments are oppressive, too." "Increasingly, the clearest threat to democracy and minority rights today comes not just from a surfeit of central power concentrated in Washington, D.C., but also from increased centralization of authority within states, and even regional agencies," Kotkin wrote last month in the Los Angeles Daily News. If it seems that California has more in common with Venezuela than it does with Switzerland, ranked by Cato as the world's most-free nation, well, there's good reason for that. As councilman Dominguez's "rhetorical" "string of words" indicates, the once-Golden State is moving fast in the wrong direction. Unchecked by voters, states can become authoritarian, too.