At the April 10 Los Angeles Defeat the Mandates rally, four names were mentioned by speakers more than any other:
2. Joe Biden
3. Gavin Newsom
4. Richard Pan
God generally received wide support from the thousands of people who gathered at Grand Park to protest the ongoing Covid-19 mandates and restrictions. Predictably Biden and Newsom met with disdain. The last name on the list may have puzzled some in the crowd, however, he is not president, he is not governor, and he is, evidently, not God. Yet mentions of his name drew boos like he was a visiting slugger coming to bat at Dodger Stadium.
Those not familiar with the nuts and bolts of Sacramento politics may have been asking themselves: Who the heck is this Richard Pan guy, and why does he inspire such fear and loathing?
Although one longtime California political observer described him as “strange,” apparently not an isolated opinion, the strong feelings he engenders do not seem personal in nature. He is a middle-aged bespectacled Democrat, a California state senator whose district centers on Sacramento city. A pediatrician. Hard worker. Father, husband, son of immigrants. No surprises there.
What causes alarm is that like a careless burglar his fingerprints are all over “a number of draconian bills” now being considered by the California legislature, in the words of Dr. Robert Malone, one of the speakers at the protest. If these bills become law, warns Malone, “California is headed toward being a police state.”
One of these bills, SB 871, mandates that all California schoolchildren, public and private, must get the Covid-19 vaccine. Pan is the author of that one, although he has withdrawn it from legislative consideration for the time being. In what is almost surely a coordinated move, Gov. Newsom has pushed back his order requiring all school kids to get the vaccine until 2023, conveniently not an election year.
Nevertheless other Pan ideas are still looming. Another brainchild of his, SB 1390, takes aim on the First Amendment; it would prohibit people from posting “misinformation” online that the government deems false or misleading.
One more Pan creation, SB 1464 would put sheriffs and local law enforcement under the thumb of the public health bureaucrats; if the latter issues an order and the sheriffs don’t ride in to enforce it, their funding will be stripped.
One could go on, but you get the drift. Although Pan may believe that these bills, if enacted, would represent a great leap forward for the state, he is of course aware that many people do not share his enthusiasm. On the day of the Los Angeles rally his Twitter feed retweeted a post by a follower who dissed the protesters as “YouTube’s finest minds. Despite the all-star lineup, it’s pretty dead.” That’s showing ‘em.
It is standard operating procedure for politicians to ignore their critics and if this is not possible, to dismiss them as extremist fringe dirtbags not welcome in polite society or any society. A closer look at the attendees at the day-long rally might have produced a more nuanced view. They included: Biden voters, Trump voters, old-school Democrat liberals disenchanted with the party’s new-found Stalinist impulses, Jews, Muslims, evangelicals, Mama Bears (and lots of them too), truckers who’d been to D.C. and back, union tradespeople, cops, nurses, esteemed physicians, ex-employees who had lost their jobs simply because they chose not to get the jab, inspired Latino activists, immigrants of all races, families, retirees, the unvaccinated and in a new twist, vaccinated Californians who are simply saying that enough is enough.
These people are not fringe; they represent an emerging new movement that is building across the land. Finding a public opinion poll these days that favors the Democrats in the 2022 vote is like the search for the Dead Sea Scrolls. They’re out there, but you have to dig hard to find them. Like virtually all incumbents in the state legislature Pan has been in a safe seat, and he is termed out at the end of 2022.
But his ideas and those of his aggressive-minded associates are certainly on the table, and lots of very motivated voters don’t like them. With the strange but determined figure of Captain Pan at the helm, even in blue California, the Democrats may come to resemble the Titanic upon its first sighting of an iceberg. After all, what could go wrong?
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