Michael Shellenberger is running for governor of California and is looking to beat Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom, all while keeping with his liberal roots and looking to other solutions to problems that have plagued the state for years.
Shellenberger is the author of “San Fransicko: Why Progressives Ruin Cities,” and he sees multiple problems with the structure of California and its policies.
He described to The Daily Wire how the homelessness crisis in California is a “complete disaster,” noting how he discovered that European researchers call the so-called homeless encampments “open drug scenes,” which he said are essentially open air drug markets in which addicts live so they can be close to their drug dealers.
“Basically every woman I interview in these camps has been sexually assaulted multiple times,” he said. “The vast majority of people are using both methamphetamine and fentanyl, both highly concentrated synthetic versions.”
Shellenberger said that while there is a lot of diversity of people — their stories, racial classes, socioeconomic classes — the uniting factor is the addiction.
“That’s why they’re there,” he said. “Some people have serious mental illness. Some people are just addicts.”
He pointed to progressive policies as a main issue, saying that in progressive West Coast cities, and more and more in progressive cities across the country, “progressive policymakers have decided that it’s more compassionate to let people just remain in the throes of late-stage addiction, living in tents, defecating publicly, engaging in prostitution, human trafficking, and sexual assault rather than require them to stay in shelters, require them to get drug treatment, require them to get psychiatric care.”
The Housing First policy in California, Shellenberger said, is what has led to the homelessness “disaster.” The idea behind the policy was to give a home to people who have “substance abuse or addiction or mental illness” so they can “stabilize and then, on their own, they want to go get treatment.”
He said it “doesn’t deal with the root problem, which is untreated mental illness and addiction.” He said the only effective option is called “contingency management,” which is essentially a practice of giving people a reward for abstinence, taking medicine, or going to work.
He said that progressives tend to have a “big blind spot” regarding compassionate solutions that might have “unintended negative consequences,” and he also said there’s a “grift” happening at the same time, calling the Housing First policy a “scam,” saying that it “allows for much more money by the builders and the contractors to kick back to Democratic Party politicians in a form of campaign contributions.”
When it comes to the climate, Shellenberger calls himself “a pro-human environmentalist.” He said there are essentially two sides, and pro-human environmentalists believe that people should protect the natural world so they can enjoy it, but also recognize modern vehicles are necessary. On the other hand, he said, some people are “anti-human environmentalists, who believe that humans are a cancer on the earth.”
He said that California has been dominated by the anti-human environmentalist side, pointing out how “we’ve been fighting to save our last nuclear plant,” and there have been blackouts happening in the state for multiple years. He also pointed to the need for more power and the real human impact: “When there’s not enough electricity for air conditioners, people die.”
Shellenberger discussed the push for nuclear energy as a clean response to the energy crisis. He pointed out how nuclear energy can be used for desalination, to make fertilizer, and create hydrogen.
He said that nuclear plants are the correct environmental alternative and they are also a way to lower energy costs, as is clear in Europe and Japan, which are keeping their nuclear plants running because “we’re in the worst energy crisis in 50 years in part because climate activists — anti-human climate activists, I should say, not the pro-human side — have repressed oil and gas development.”
“We need abundant energy in order to both lift people out of poverty, but also protect the natural environment,” he added.
Shellenberger switched his party affiliation from Democrat to Independent last spring as soon as he completed writing “San Fransicko.” He pointed out how “there’s been a supermajority of Democrats” in California, and said there’s “no way” to blame Republicans for the “humanitarian disaster on our streets.”
He still has a lot of the same values he did before, but he said he “couldn’t sleep at night continuing to be a Democrat” after discovering what he did.
“I’m a conservative when it comes to believing in the need for civilization. I’m a libertarian when it comes to my love of freedom,” he said. “And I’m a bleeding heart liberal when it comes to my compassion for the most vulnerable.”
“And I don’t think there’s a contradiction between those three things. In fact, I think they all need each other,” he concluded.
The primary for California governor will be held on June 7.