“Freedom is our essence, our brand name — the abiding idea that right here, anyone from anywhere can accomplish anything,” so said the stunt double for Gordon Gekko’s hair, Gavin Newsom, upon being sworn in for his second term as the governor of California. Never mind that California was the exemplar of draconian lockdown policies designed to stop Covid, nor that businesses are fleeing the state, nor that it’s using “1984” as a roadmap. If Gov. French Laundry says it’s true, as he’s taking shots at potential future presidential rivals in Florida and Texas, it must be true.
And maybe it is true on Earth-2. California was once the home of innovation and a bastion of America’s independent spirit. The expression “As goes California, so goes the nation” didn’t gain currency because it was incorrect. But as another expression says: That was then, this is now. For in the now, it’s southern states and governors who are leading the way on freedom, empowering citizens, rebuilding infrastructure, and returning to the lost ideal of just leaving people alone.
When it comes to policies that actually promote freedom, states like Florida, Texas, and, God willing, my own Arkansas are doing much more to promulgate the free expression of the American spirit than Beijing on the Bay. How do we know this? Well, while actions speak louder than words, the actions of the governors of those states show they’re not afraid to put their money where their mouths are.
When Ron DeSantis was sworn in for his second term as governor, in a previously purple state in which he won reelection by almost 19 points, his inaugural speech proclaimed Florida as a bastion of freedom, but he has the stats to back it up. From fighting indoctrination masquerading as education to battling woke corporate excess to remembering that conservation is a conservative value, he has a record.
When Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who was elected the first female governor of Arkansas by a margin of roughly 27 points, was sworn in, she immediately began issuing executive orders fighting racism masked as education while urging the legislature to enshrine the orders so that future governors could not rescind them. She repealed five executive orders left in place by her Republican predecessor, Asa Hutchinson, regarding Covid. And she instituted a promotion and hiring freeze for state workers and made it impossible for state government agencies to issue new regulations without her approval.
And when Greg Abbott, who dealt Robert Francis “Novice Air Drummer” O’Rourke his latest defeat, was sworn in for his third term as governor of Texas, the new technology and innovation hub of America, he sounded the alarms on indoctrination, public safety, and the crisis at America’s southern border as well as offering a positive vision for the future of Texas. He stressed the need to focus on infrastructure and ensuring that the state’s power grid is prepared not just for the next four years “but for the next 40 years.”
Texas’ population has grown to more than 30 million people while California’s population has declined. And it’s no wonder why; it must be reassuring to these ex-Californians that their new home is being proactive in preventing the rolling brownouts of their former state. They can also take solace in the fact that Abbott didn’t give into Covid hysteria and has helped foster a climate that has drawn more than a few businesses from the Golden State to the Lone Star State.
It’s not just Texas that’s growing, but also Florida. Being open for business during the disastrous response to Covid propelled the state to the leader of the pack for growth for the first time since 1957. (Arkansas is also growing, and being home to the world’s largest retailer — and non-governmental employer — helps, though that company may soon need to be reined in akin to how DeSantis reined in Disney.)
Factor in Glenn Youngkin’s victory in Virginia in 2021, and it really seems like these southerners are onto something. Whereas conservatives in the past just wanted to be left alone, so do conservatives in the present day. However, with regulatory and Big Business busybodies unwilling to leave us alone, we need executives who will fight back.
The future of the country isn’t found in an office, it’s found in our communities, the place closest to us that we also tend to ignore, but at this moment, we also need pugilists who are willing to stand up for normalcy and vibrancy. The freshly sworn-in trio in the South is offering us that. As California goes, so goes the nation is one possibility. But if we pay attention and keep electing leaders like these, the other possibility is that as goes the South, so goes the nation.
Freedom is neither an essence nor a slogan, it’s a way of life that must be protected.