No state in America is more thoroughly dominated by one party than California. The State Senate has been controlled by Democrats for over 30 years, with Republicans currently holding only 9 of the 40 seats. Since 1992 the State Assembly was in Republican hands only once, in 1996, and today GOP politicians occupy only 19 of the 80 seats. Starting with Governor Newsom, every higher office is held by a Democrat.
One might think the state of the state would give voters pause. But rumors of realignment are greatly exaggerated. So far, the voting blocs that constitute a reliable supermajority for Democrats are durable and overwhelming. And voter motivation, notwithstanding the Democrat’s bloviating saturation campaign to vilify Republicans as racists and sexists, is economic.
The least heralded but biggest example of this are white liberal boomers and their descendants, living in the inherited homes they grew up in, protected by their lineage and by Prop. 13 from the prohibitive cost of housing for everyone else. By the millions, they vote Democrat because the Democrats haven’t hurt them, and Republicans are scary.
The next sizable bloc of Democrat voters in California are employees of state and local governments and public utilities. Taking into account retirees, active employees, their spouses and their adult children, they represent several million voters. All of these households collect pay, benefits, and pensions that are lucrative enough to shield them from the worst impacts of California’s cost-of-living. And while some of them are dimly aware that California is unaffordable because of Democratic polices, they’re acutely aware that Democrats do whatever public employee unions tell them to do. They’re not about to disrupt that arrangement.
Also voting Democratic by the millions are those Californians who have given up any hope of succeeding in life without government assistance. By and large, these voters are the least aware that in a deregulated economy with adequate enabling public infrastructure, they would be able to afford a life of comfort and dignity without government assistance. On the other hand, this is the bloc most susceptible to Democratic demonization of Republicans as heartless ogres who will strip away the safety net.
And then there are the elites. Entertainment moguls. Tech billionaires. Those workers in the digital economy who collect high salaries and vest stock options. These workers include the in-house activists who write the algorithms that regulate search results and online content. With money and influence far out of proportion to their numbers, California’s elites are reliable Democrat voters.
This is California’s electorate. They are either minimally affected by the crime, homelessness, poor schools, and high costs for everything, or they are devastated by it but convinced the only answer is more taxes, more government, more spending, more subsidies, more services. And if that’s your mentality, Republicans truly are the ogres that want to steal your lunch.
How Republicans Are Responding
This is a near hopeless situation. It’s the reason Republican donors have abandoned California. But one encouraging fact emerges. Ethnic demographics has very little to do with Democratic domination in California, despite the “anti-racist,” racist drivel that emanates from hard-left activists and the workshops of pragmatic political consultants. As described, for the most part, California’s voters choose Democrats for economic reasons.
Recognizing this underscores the futility of merely pointing out how Democrats are killing California’s economy, because they’re not. So far, Democrat policies are only killing certain sectors of California’s economy – agribusiness, energy, and small businesses. These sectors are powerful, but they nonetheless represent a small fraction of California’s overall economy and a small fraction of California’s electorate. Most of them are already Republicans. But again, there are encouraging elements to this story, because eventually, once the Democrats have thoroughly throttled California’s ability to deliver energy, water and food to everyone, the electorate will finally turn on them.
When that happens, the Republican litany of Democrat failures will find more receptive ears. Even the media will perk up, and begin to hold Democrat politicians accountable for the policies that led to the catastrophe. But to avoid a “solution” that is even worse than the status-quo, i.e., to avoid a descent into Democrat driven desperate rationing and even more taxes and regulations, the Republicans will need to offer a coherent alternative. And they need to start doing that now.
To that end, the California Republican Party has launched “The California Promise.” While the online presence of this campaign is minimal, and the online home of the campaign is little more than a splash page, it’s a start. For each of the bullet points listed on the California Promise website, here are some suggestions:
An Affordable California: Repeal the Global Warming Solutions Act and all subsequent legislation. Develop California’s oil and gas reserves and expand refinery capacity. Keep Diablo Canyon open till at least 2060 and sue the federal government to deregulate nuclear power. Eliminate laws that restrict construction of single family homes on open land. Put mass transit and HSR funds into upgrading and widening freeways across the state. Repeal mandate to ban sales on non EVs.
A Safe California: Put initiatives on the ballot to repeal Prop. 47 that downgraded drug and property crimes. Construct minimum security prisons to incarcerate inmates convicted of minor crimes and put them to work on forest thinning and conservation projects.
A Quality Education: Implement school vouchers so parents have the option to choose private, charter, or parochial schools.
A Solution for Homelessness: Direct the California Attorney General to challenge Jones vs City of LA and other 9th circuit rulings that deny the ability of police to get vagrants off the streets. Build inexpensive shelters and expose the corruption of the Homeless Industrial Complex which has solved nothing and wasted tens of billions of dollars.
A Reliable Water Supply: Put the Water Infrastructure Funding Act of 2022 on the state ballot so voters can have a chance to decisively solve water scarcity in California.
A Fire Safe California: Bring logging and milling back to California. Guarantee equipment loans so private companies can quickly reestablish operations in California’s forests. Radically streamline the regulations that prevent property owners from thinning, logging or grazing livestock on their properties.
That barely scratches the surface, of course. What CAGOP has put up there is a good start, but it isn’t enough. Not only will more specific detail be helpful, at some point CAGOP will have to make truly bold assertions.
“There is no climate crisis, renewables are not any more sustainable than so-called non renewables, and special interests have hijacked the environmental movement. While we care about the environment, we intend to revisit every single environmentalist inspired law and agency and we intend to scrap anything that we find excessive, redundant, corrupt, or based on false premises.”
That mouthful, as well, barely scratches the surface. And millions of people agree but are afraid to say so.
Maybe it’s going to take an entirely new generation of politicians to stand behind assertions this radical. It’s sad that we live in a state where fearmongering over an alleged imminent climate catastrophe is considered normal and is encouraged, while suggesting – with ample evidence if you know where to look – that the planet is not gravely imperiled, is considered radical and is condemned. But these are the times we live in.
When the lights go out, and they will, California’s voters are going to be looking for decisive answers. The issues CAGOP has highlighted in their California Promise provide a sufficiently comprehensive taxonomy. But within each category, offer not only specifics, but radical change. The ship needs to turn away from the iceberg, not merely slow down.
This article originally appeared in the California Globe.
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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