Newsom Adds Insult to Injury, Tells People To 'Shop Local' After His Restrictions Eviscerated Small Business


A question for Gavin Newsom: Does eating at a Michelin-starred restaurant in Napa Valley count as “shopping local” for Christmas? Asking for a governor friend.

In case you haven’t faced any admonitions to shop local for the holidays on social media, brace yourselves: Christmas is coming.

There are two groups of people who are about to unleash a raft of posts reminding you it’s your moral imperative to shop with small businesses.

The first — and most aggressive — group involves your Etsy merchant friends on Facebook, who’ll make it clear that if you go to Target or Lowe’s for anything, you’re a nuclear schmuck, and if they outlive you, they’ll dance on your grave or wherever you’re ashes are scattered. (Disappointingly, this is only slightly hyperbolic.)

The second group is politicians. This is usually pro forma nonsense tweeted out by their staff. In 2020, however, there’s a problematic irony to these messages, as Newsom, California’s Democratic governor, discovered this weekend.

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“Today is Small Business Saturday. California is home to over 4 million small businesses,” he tweeted. “This holiday season, shop safe and shop local to help support our economy and the over 7 million workers that help keep our small businesses going.”

Newsom’s lockdown rules have been some of the strictest in the country, which is why many of those California small businesses have remained shut down — and will never reopen.

In one commercial plaza in San Jose, for instance, only 30 percent of businesses could pay rent during the worst months of the pandemic, KGO-TV reported.

“I could lose everything. It would be sad because my family, we’ve been here for 32 years,” said Christina Bui, whose shop has lost 80 percent of its business.

The Golden State went on another round of stringent lockdowns — including a 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew — earlier this month after COVID-19 cases started increasing. According to U.S. News and World Report, California reported a seven-day average of 11,500 cases in the third week of the month, which was triple what the state saw three months earlier.

The lockdowns have frustrated business owners, particularly given the lockdown came after Newsom’s infamous visit to the Michelin-starred French Laundry restaurant, roughly an hour’s drive from the state capital in Sacramento.

The governor has claimed helping small business is at the top of his agenda.

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“My top priority, moving into presentation of the January budget, is to support our small businesses,” the governor said at a news conference this month.

There weren’t many people to point out an easier way to do this might have been to resist setting curfews and shuttering businesses, but there you go.

If those on social media heard Newsom say his top priority in the budget was small business funding, they didn’t find it credible. Here were some of the responses — those that can be passed along, anyway:

The other responses probably shouldn’t be shared here, given they mostly involve a word that starts with the fifth letter of the alphabet. Vulgar, but understandable, given that just before his state implemented its more stringent lockdown measures this month, the governor was at a birthday party in a restaurant where meals start at $350 per person, all with more than three households and in what looked like an indoor setting.

Newsom had previously implored residents to pull up their masks “between bites” at restaurants. Perhaps these pictures were taken when everyone was simultaneously chewing.

The governor isn’t the only one facing a backlash for a “support small businesses” tweet. Democratic vice presidential candidate and California Sen. Kamala Harris, who had supported a bail fund for individuals charged with rioting in Minnesota, also tweeted her support for small businesses (some of which presumably would have preferred not to have incurred property damage in the riots):

Newsom, however, was the easiest target, particularly after his field trip to the French Laundry.

At least he’s supported one small business, but I can think of a way he could support a lot more of them.

No, politicians aren’t as overbearing as your Etsy-loving friends. No matter how much shade they throw your way, however, at least they aren’t hypocrites on a Newsomesque scale. You have to give them that.

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C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014.
C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014. Aside from politics, he enjoys spending time with his wife, literature (especially British comic novels and modern Japanese lit), indie rock, coffee, Formula One and football (of both American and world varieties).
Morristown, New Jersey
Catholic University of America
Languages Spoken
English, Spanish
Topics of Expertise
American Politics, World Politics, Culture