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Who Will Support California’s Populists?

A recent article published in the Kennedy School Review by American Affairs editor Julius Krein makes a strong case that conservatives have no future as a political force in America. The one flaw in this article, entitled “Can Conservatism Be More than a Grudge,” is it may be a little too pessimistic. It’s well argued and is a must-read for anyone serious about reviving conservative political power in places like California.

The only hope Krein offers is the power of populism, harnessing a multi-racial coalition of working-class and middle class Americans. But conservative populism, ascendant today in California, is about to be squandered by an establishment that lacks the leadership and authenticity to tap this extraordinary energy.

One of Krein’s understated but most powerful points regards patronage. He writes: “The Democratic coalition is no less incongruous than the Republican one. There are, however, two important differences between them. First, the Democratic economic base is composed largely of ascendant and prestigious economic sectors and firms, from Silicon Valley to Goldman Sachs, while Republicans are predominantly supported by declining sectors, like natural resource extraction. Second, the Democratic patronage system is coherent, even if the Democratic coalition is not. In other words, the Democratic Party is capable of using policy to directly benefit its various constituencies and to create new ones. Together, both of these factors ensure that Democrats’ patchwork constituencies have reasons to overlook their coalition’s internal contradictions. That is simply not the case on the Republican side.”

This single paragraph […] Read More

The Agenda to Realign California Politics

When it comes to California’s political dysfunction, over and over, the story’s already been told. Failing schools, crumbling infrastructure. Highest taxes, highest unemployment, and highest cost-of-living. Hostile business climate. Crippling, punitive regulations and fees. Widest gap between rich and poor. Burning forests, lawless streets. Record numbers of homeless. Unaffordable housing. Water rationing, electricity blackouts. And on and on. We get it.

When it comes to California’s political hierarchy, again it’s a familiar story. The Democrats run almost everything. The political spending by government unions and leftist billionaires, overwhelmingly favoring Democrats, leave the GOP hopelessly outgunned financially. The political bias of literally all the online and legacy media leave the GOP without a voice.

This is the context through which it is indeed surprising and impressive that CAGOP logged some significant wins in the recent election. Critics of CAGOP’s performance, and they are many, downplay the CAGOP’s victories – including flipping four U.S. Congressional seats and beating back a partial repeal of Prop. 13 – and instead remind everyone how Democrats remain in absolute control of the state legislature, all higher state offices, and almost every city and county. But the CAGOP had far less money, and they faced relentless media hostility. It’s a wonder they ever win anything, anywhere.

So what’s next for CAGOP? Or more to the point, what’s next for all Californians who agree regardless of their party affiliation that life in California could be better, much better, and that current government policies are to blame?

[…] Read More

Suggested Executive Orders for Gavin Newsom

Without criticizing the tremendous efforts that are already being made, here are some additional steps that California Governor Gavin Newsom could take to combat the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Some of these recommendations may run counter to the political momentum of California’s one-party state, but perhaps in these extraordinary times, they should be considered based solely on their efficacy.

(1) Suspend AB-5, the new law that prevents millions of Californians from working as independent contractors. This law, which has attracted fierce opposition from people of diverse ideologies, is particularly harmful during this crisis. AB-5 has already put hundreds of thousands either out of work or into legal uncertainty regarding their future, and now it’s preventing hospitals from hiring part-time freelance nurses, support staff, translators, phone counselors, and others.

(2) California’s regulatory burden placed on individuals who want to operate as independent service providers was oppressive before AB 5. Now is a good time for Governor Newsom to issue an executive order to revise occupational licensing requirements. In particular, permit nursing school graduates to fulfill their clinical rotation requirements using simulations instead of in-hospital rounds which have been discontinued during this pandemic.

(3) Immediately free California’s nursing schools to graduate as many nurses as qualify for certification. This would end the state Board of Registered Nursing’s attempt to use its authority unconstitutionally to limit new nurses and to control the schools that train them. The governor can immediately rein in this out-of-control agency, and allow 10,000 […] Read More

The Seven Deadly Sins of California’s Political Establishment

To be fair, California’s politicians aren’t alone in their quest to destroy America’s rights, freedoms, prosperity, culture, traditions, and pride. They’re just more advanced in their quest. But since what happens in California often ends up happening later in the rest of America, it’s important to highlight just how bad it’s gotten in the Golden State.

Just as a theologian might argue there are more than seven deadly sins that are fatal to spiritual progress, there are more than seven policy areas where California’s political leadership have fatally undermined the aspirations of ordinary Californians. But in the interests of brevity and clarity, here are what might be the most damning seven deadly sins of California’s political establishment.

Law and Order – Californians have prided themselves on being trendsetters in human rights, but the pendulum has swung too far. Thanks to Prop. 47, the “Reduced Penalties for Some Crimes Initiative” approved by California’s voters in 2014, it is nearly impossible to arrest and hold anyone for possession of hard drugs, so long as they claim the drugs are for personal use. Prop. 47 also downgraded the punishment for property crimes if the value of the stolen goods are under $950 per offense.

The consequence of these laws are public drug use and rampant theft to support these drug habits. Other ridiculous laws include AB 953, the “Racial and Identity Profiling Act” (2015), that requires police to fill out an extensive questionnaire after every encounter with a member of the […] Read More

Public Sector Unions Should Support the Public Agenda

In a special election last week, Brian Dahle defeated Kevin Kiley in the race to become the next California State Senator representing District One, which sprawls north from the foothills east of Sacramento all the way to the Oregon border.

Both candidates were Republican members of the State Assembly, competing in one of the few safe Republican districts left in California. If you study their legislative voting records, all but the most committed conservative wonks would consider these men to offer pretty much the same positions on most issues. But Dahle had one decisive advantage – endorsements and financial contributions from public safety unions.

What is Brian Dahle going to do in return for this support?

In a perfect world, any organization of public servants would be non-partisan and politically neutral. But here in California, public sector unions don’t spend hundreds of millions every year to elect candidates like Brian Dahle out of political neutrality.

It would be bad enough if the only “political” agenda of public sector unions was to back pay and benefits packages that are, in the case of pensions, threatening to bankrupt every public agency in the state. But that’s hardly the case.

For example, earlier this year, why did International Association of Fire Fighters president Harold Schaitberger to lead 1,600 firefighters in solidarity with striking teachers in Los Angeles? Was his membership asked, or have they even thought about what unions have done to California’s public schools? Are they actually against […] Read More

The Destruction of Venice Beach Epitomizes California’s Idiocracy

Venice Beach, California, used to be one of California’s great places. A Bohemian gem, nestled against the sand between big Los Angeles and the vast Pacific Ocean. Rents used to be a little lower in Venice compared to other coastal neighborhoods. The locals mingled with surfers, artists, street performers, and tourists. People from suburbs further inland migrated to Venice’s beaches on sunny weekends year-round. Venice was affordable, inviting, inclusive. That was then.

Today, Venice Beach is off limits to families who used to spend their Saturdays on the sand. It’s too dangerous. On the sand, beached seaweed now mingles with syringes, feces, broken glass, and other trash, and the ocean has become the biggest outdoor toilet in the city. Over a thousand vagrants now consider Venice Beach their permanent home. At the same time as real estate values exploded all along the California coast, the homeless population soared. In Venice, where the median price of a home is $2.1 million, makeshift shelters line the streets and alleys, as the affluent and the indigent fitfully coexist.

What has happened in Venice is representative of what’s happened to California. If progressives take back the White House in 2020, it will be America’s fate.

California’s cost-of-living is driving out all but the very rich and the very poor, a problem that is entirely the result of policies enacted by California’s progressive elite. They reduce to two factors, both considered beyond debate in the one-party state. First, to supposedly prevent catastrophic climate change, […] Read More

California’s Green ‘Bantustans’ Are Coming to America

If the “smart growth” urban planners that dictate land use policies in Democratic states and cities have their way, the single family dwelling is an endangered species.

In Oregon, proposed legislation would “require cities larger than 10,000 people to allow up to four homes to be built on land currently zoned exclusively for single-family housing.” In Minneapolis, recent actions by the city council mean that “duplexes and triplexes would be allowed in neighborhoods that only previously allowed single-family housing.”

The war on the detached, single family home, and—more to the point—the war on residential neighborhoods comprised exclusively of single family homes, is on. And it’s gone national.

In California, ground zero for this movement, state legislation now requires cities and counties to fast track permitting for “accessory dwelling units.” This scheme will allow developers and ambitious homeowners to construct detached rental homes in their backyards, but since they’re called “accessory dwelling units,” instead of “homes,” they would not run afoul of local zoning ordinances that, at one time, were designed to protect neighborhoods from exactly this sort of thing.

“Smart growth,” however, began long before the home itself came under attack.

First there was the war on the back yard. Large lots became crimes against the planet—and if you doubt the success of this war, just get a window seat the next time you fly into any major American city. In the suburbs you will see a beautiful expanse of green, spacious, shady neighborhoods with lots designed […] Read More