Realigning California is not Impossible

It’s no secret that California is a juggernaut, exercising influence in national politics even disproportionate to its status as the largest state. And it’s all bad news. From California comes progressive authoritarianism in all its toxic iterations: climate fascism, big tech censorship, Hollywood cultural propaganda, and billions in campaign contributions to Democrats in every state from New Hampshire to Hawaii.

Often lost in the chorus of condemnation coming from the American right is the fact that struggling within the one-party state called California is a beleaguered minority of GOP voters. A minority so sizable, in fact, that in the 2020 election, Donald Trump received 6 million votes in California, edging out Texas and Florida to have the most Trump voters in the country.

If you examine California’s political geography, a pattern emerges that is precisely the same as in most other states. The big cities, run by politicians typically controlled by public sector unions, are solid blue. But in the hinterlands, many rural counties are solidly Republican. The registration numbers reflect a sizable number of Republican voters, despite being not nearly enough to win statewide elections. The pattern is typically 60/40.

For example, in the 2022 elections for higher state office, Democrats swept the field. Newsom got 59.2  percent of the vote to be reelected governor. Eleni Kounalakis got 59.7 percent to win Lieutenant Governor. The down-ticket Democrat candidates for state office also all won; Secretary of State 60.1 percent, Controller 55.3 percent, Treasurer 58.8 percent, Attorney General 59.1 percent, Insurance Commissioner 59.9 percent, and Superintendent of Public Instruction 63.7 percent.

In the California State Legislature, it’s the same story. The Democratic candidates hold 32 of the 40 seats in the State Senate, and they hold 62 of the 80 seats in the State Assembly. Democrats exercise absolute power in California. But this disenfranchises a sizable minority, since 40 percent of voters can be relied on to vote against Democrats, and in California’s top two general election system, that means they’re voting for Republicans.

There are many ways to look at 40 percent. On one hand, you can consider it indicates landslide proportions, which it is, and give up. But if you take a good look at the mess Democrats have made of California, you might decide it’s entirely possible to swing an additional 10 percent of voters against Democrats and start winning elections. You’d be up against a powerful coalition of public sector unions, who are the top contributors to almost every Democrat that’s had a seat in the state legislature in at least the last 20 years. And you would find them allied with tech billionaires, Hollywood influencers, and an assortment of activist nonprofits and their affiliated PACs. Together, these special interests fuel an agenda that has turned California into a feudal society and stands poised to turn the rest of America into the same medieval mess.

This failure needs no explaining. Californians live with it every day. Tens of thousands of homeless, dying on the streets because politicians are too crooked and too cowardly to just round them up and get them sober, like they used to. Criminals openly looting and terrorizing citizens because prosecutors—elected by Democratic megadonors—have decided incarceration is not the answer. The highest taxes and most burdensome regulations, all for nothing, because California has unreliable energy, rationed water, unaffordable homes, terrible schools, and it’s not safe.

California today is run by this formidable coalition of special interests, more united and more powerful than their counterparts in other states, serving themselves and their donors. They win because, along with all that power and all that money, they sell a message that goes something like this: “Vote for us because Donald Trump will destroy democracy.” Meanwhile, compliant “news” networks associate any Republican with Trump—that is, when they’re not selling climate porn, systemic racism porn, pandemic porn, gender bigotry porn, and other distracting forms of fear-based propaganda.

Propaganda works, but it’s a dangerous game. One by one, people see through the lies. All they need is a wholesome alternative. A message of hope and an agenda to back it up. It isn’t enough to say that Democrats ruined the state, because Democrats have convinced voters that Republicans will ruin it even more.

These are serious disadvantages, but the only healthy approach is to consider them as excuses because Republicans can win in California if they focus on and offer solutions for just three huge things: education, public safety, and the cost of living. These solutions are known and rehashed so often you can’t enumerate them without being stamped as a wonk. Oh well. Here goes:

For education, streamline the process for new charter schools to be opened and for existing charter schools to stay open, implement universal education savings accounts, and reform public school union work rules so teachers can be hired, retained, and compensated based on their success in the classroom instead of based on seniority.

The biggest issue with public safety is to repeal the laws that downgraded penalties for drug and property crimes. Close behind is to insist that funds to help the unhoused go into erecting inexpensive tent cities on inexpensive land, with some of the savings going into mandatory drug treatment and job training. Break the homeless industrial complex which has wasted billions only to make the problem worse.

As for cost of living, candidates need to openly proclaim that the scarcity agenda imposed on Californians will not fix the climate, if there even is a “climate crisis.” Then they need to promise to repeal every law and regulation that unreasonably stifles private investment in new home construction, along with laws that restrict investment in practical energy and water supply solutions. They can begin by promising to repeal the California Environmental Quality Act and the Global Warming Solutions Act. And they can remind concerned voters that there will still be an overabundance of federal protections that will remain to safeguard the environment.

California just needs more candidates with the courage to stand firm on these three issues of universal and nonpartisan appeal and with the charisma to communicate the upside of these positions. The opportunity here is that if a few businesspeople, engineers, and other pragmatic, capable individuals were to step forward to run for office, they would dilute the inevitable attacks from the corrupt special interests that run California today. The more good candidates step up, the more will be willing to step up, because there will be strength in numbers.

Emphasizing tough solutions that will solve California’s three biggest problems will find growing support from an electorate that’s reaching the limit of its patience. With courage, optimism, and adherence to specific solutions, a team of like-minded politicians, sharing a unified message, will eventually realign California. The way things are, it may be just a matter of time.

This article originally appeared in American Greatness.

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