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Gavin Newsom Talks Tech Anxiety & California’s Way Forward

One week after the 2016 presidential election, Lieutenant Governor of California Gavin Newsom drove an insightful and heartening conversation that analyzed what happened in the election and strategized about the important role progressive California will play in the new political world.

Newsom challenged a packed crowd of techies and innovators at What’s Now: San Francisco to learn from the electoral backlash and become more empathetic and inclusive going forward. He said he was worried about increasing automation—from driverless cars to employee-less fast food restaurants—that will only increase anxiety about globalization and the future of work. “Businesses cannot thrive in a world that’s failing,” said Newsom. “We could talk growth all day long, but it’s got to be growth and inclusion. And we’ve missed the ‘and inclusion’ part of the equation.”

Newsom also helped counter the anxiety in the crowd by talking about how California often experiences the future before the rest of America and how its politics evolves ahead of other states. In that regard, this election was a huge success for the progressive agenda in California, particularly in the outcomes of most of the 17 ballot initiatives. Newsom reminded everyone that California went through a conservative backlash in the 1990s, and even had a celebrity governor a decade ago. Now the state is run by progressive Democrats.

Newsom discussed the results of California’s 17 ballot initiatives (above) and its validation of the progressive agenda—with the except of the failed initiative to abolish the death penalty, which Newsom said both did and didn’t surprise him. “But in almost every other instance,” Newsom said, “we moved in a more progressive, and I would argue, enlightened, direction.” Newsom believes that being a progressive doesn’t mean being profligate, an idea that he thinks California should export to the rest of the country.

Newsom also talked about the backstop provisions the state government is developing in order to protect California’s progress in areas like climate change and healthcare. As the sixth-largest economy in the world and a majority minority state, California should be a leader in these areas, Newsom argued. He wholeheartedly rejects the idea of a “Calexit,” saying “I don’t support walking away. I support fighting.”

For more coverage of the event, read Jonathan Littman and Susanna Camp’s summary in SmartUp Life, and Carla Marinucci’s coverage in Politico.