If you’re searching for an accurate term to describe the Newsom recall effort, it’s not easy. With 48 percent of the electorate planning to vote for Newsom’s retirement according to the latest poll, and only 24 percent registered Republicans in California, characterizing the recall as a “Republican Recall” is inaccurate. But that’s not stopping California’s Democrats from doing that, because it works.
The demonization of Republicans in California has its origins in Prop. 187, championed in 1994 by Pete Wilson, the Republican governor at the time. Approved by 58 percent of the electorate, but later struck down in court, the measure would have prohibited undocumented immigrants from using social services, public schools, and public healthcare services except in cases of emergency.
Ever since, Republicans in California have been successfully stigmatized as racist. The next step in the demonization of Republicans in California came with Prop. 8, approved by 52 percent of voters in 2008. Defining marriage as between a man and a woman, and also struck down in court, the legacy of Prop. 8 is to taint California’s Republicans as not only racist, but homophobic bigots as well.
If these factors weren’t enough, California’s Republicans are now tagged as Trump supporters. Since California’s electorate is thoroughly conditioned to associate Trump with every negative right-wing stereotype imaginable, that, too, works.
No wonder we have a national politicians like Elizabeth Warren appearing on television ads in California, where she equates supporters of the Newsom recall with “Trump supporters across the nation attacking election results and the right to vote.” Warren goes on to say “now, they’re coming to grab power in California, abusing the recall process and costing Californians millions.”
Warren’s message, paid for primarily by Netflix founder and billionaire Reed Hastings, is a textbook example of the vacuous brilliance of anti-recall messaging. Every bit of it is false yet compelling, from its blatant distortions of current facts to the hollowed out half-truths that constitute its core premises.
Current facts, for example, completely contradict the idea that there’s any connection between what are, in any case, legitimate attempts to restore faith in voting integrity across the nation with the Newsom recall. Facts also contradict the idea that the Newsom recall is an “abuse of the recall process.” If it were just Trump Republicans who supported the Newsom recall, Reed Hastings and the SEIU wouldn’t be spending millions to oppose it.
The cold fact of political life in California is this: Republicans constitute less than one quarter of registered voters. Democratic demagoguery aside, things are complicated. There are millions of non-Republicans who support the recall. This same nuanced reality informs any historical analysis of partisan politics in California over the past few decades.
Prop. 8, for example, attracted 7.0 million “yes” votes back in 2008, at a time when there were only 5.3 million registered Republicans left in the entire state – and as if 100 percent of them turned out. Not only did millions of independents and Democrats support Prop. 8, but its presence on the ballot caused a split in the California Republican party from top to bottom on social issues that still exists.
What’s most misleading about recall opponents tagging it as a “Republican Recall” is that all of this is meant to distract voters from the failures of California’s ruling Democrats.
And what of the core premises of Democrats? Maybe Prop. 187 went too far. That doesn’t mean the immigration debate is over. When will honest Democrats, along with their allies in big tech and the media, acknowledge that at some point there is a practical limit to how many foreign refugees can settle in the United States? When will they admit that the real reason for lax border security is because it suits the agenda of government bureaucrats, corporations and financial special interests who want a surplus of labor and a shortage of public services? Millions more people mean more taxes to provide them more services, bigger government, cheap labor, and obscene profits for real estate speculators.
Similarly, when will honest Democrats along with their allies in the media acknowledge that somewhere, and we may debate with civility exactly where, there is a practical limit to how emphatically we must celebrate this week’s mandatory gender innovation of the century? One may argue that Prop. 8 was behind the times. But does that mean anything goes? Maybe, for example, it isn’t necessary to upend the entire so-called “binary” paradigm of gender when instructing first graders in the public schools, and maybe, just maybe, transsexual women should not be competing in women’s sports?
The Democratic party’s positions on these issues are themselves intolerant in the extreme. If you wish to question the efficacy of lax border enforcement and sanctuary cities, you are a racist. If you wish to question the entire transgender agenda, you are a bigot. And yet on these unreasonable premises, they’ve turned the entire Republican party radioactive.
Despite massive spending on misleading political ads, Gavin Newsom could lose. Because Californians of all backgrounds and lifestyles are realizing that Republicans aren’t to blame for the problems they’re facing. Republicans are politically impotent in California and they have been for nearly two decades. Crowing about supposed Republican extremism is a distraction from the real story.
Democrats are the reason California’s cities are overrun with homeless people, because Democrats are the reason that overregulation has made homeless shelters and homeless housing impossible to build at scale, or with any conditions for entrance. Democrats are also the reason that overregulation has made housing impossible to build without construction subsidies, and unaffordable to occupy without either rent subsidies or unusual personal wealth.
Everywhere you turn, it’s the Democrats whose policies have created the problems confronting ordinary Californians. Expensive, unreliable electricity. Water rationing. Public schools utterly failing low income communities. Congested, pitted roads that desperately need upgrades and expansion. Forests that are burning up because Democrats destroyed the logging industry and imposed regulations that make it almost impossible for landowners to do controlled burns or thinning.
The list of Democratic party failures goes on. And on. And on. And it has nothing to do with supposed Republican “bigots.” Gavin Newsom’s support from billionaires and unions representing public bureaucrats is not inexplicable. What constitutes a betrayal of private sector working families spells profit for the oligarchs, and empire building for the bureaucrats.
That’s the real message. One would think that Elizabeth Warren would understand at least half that story. Perhaps she does. But money talks.
This article originally appeared on the website California Globe.
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Edward Ring is a contributing editor and senior fellow with the California Policy Center, which he co-founded in 2013 and served as its first president. He is also a senior fellow with the Center for American Greatness, and a regular contributor to the California Globe. His work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Economist, Forbes, and other media outlets.
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