August 27, 2022
Pete Wilson governed California in early 1990s. Wilson, a moderate conservative, had won election to succeed George Deukmeijian, another moderate conservative. When Deukmeijian began his first term in 1982, the California coast was mostly Left-wing, with the inland areas being more conservative. It was generally accepted and understood that the coast, cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco, were strongly Democrat ("those loony San Francisco liberals" as we used to call them), but a comfortable majority of California remained centrist to conservative, with Orange County being a bastion of conservative and traditional values and thought.
Fast-forward to the 2018 gubernatorial election, nearly 40 years later. The map now shows that the Left has made deep inroads. The coast, including Orange County, and except for a tiny spot at the northwest tip of the state, is now blue or deep blue. The poison of Left-wing ideology has infected all of California, to include the inland areas and regions bordering Nevada.
California has not elected a conservative governor in a general election since Pete Wilson.1
Democrats hold a super-majority in both chambers of the California state legislature; it is said that the ratio of Democrats to Republicans in California is 3 to 1 and in many areas perhaps as high as 10 to 1 — unhealthy for open debate and exchange of ideas. Democrats hold all statewide offices and whatever legislation Democrats pass is rubber-stamped into law by their Democrat governor. The California Supreme court leans heavily to the left, with 5 of its 7 justices appointed by Democrats.
Californians have voluntarily subjected themselves to one-party rule for thirty years and there are consequences: the eye-popping state income tax of 13.3% on those households earning over $1,000,000 (which let's face it — isn't that much money when you're paying a California-sized mortgage — a modest 3-bedroom, 2-bathroom 1500 square-foot home prices just north of $1.2 million), 9.3%-10.3% on most other households, and of course who can forget the perennial state budget deficits? The state is said to be $20 billion in red ink thanks in part to an out-of-control tax-and-spend-more legislature.
Illegal immigration has plagued the state for decades with California politicians seemingly not wanting to address the problem at all. The last serious attempt to do so was Proposition 187, but Democrat appointee judge Mariana Pfaelzer overruled the will of the voters in 1994. "Lights Out" Davis withdrew Governor Wilson's appeal of Pfaelzer's ruling in 1999 and Proposition 187, which would have banned illegal aliens from receiving taxpayer-funded goods and services, quietly joined the long list of superb ideas that never became law.
Lastly but perhaps most importantly, the Democrat Party has an institutional lock on education in the state. The teachers' unions have ideologically strangled K-12 education, and the California post-secondary public university system, both the UC and Calstate systems, are dominated by the Left. Most universities in California sport draconian speech codes where challenging politically correct ideologies may result in expulsion from the university &mmdash; or perhaps even being physically assaulted by Left-wing students. The faculty ratios at California schools are 9 to 1 Left-wing to conservative professors, with most conservative professors "in the closet" for fear that exposing their political views would result in losing their jobs. There is zero tolerance for dissent from Left-wing orthodoxy on university campuses in California — again, hardly healthy for any open society and anathema to the California free speech movement which calls U.C. Berkeley its birthplace.
We in the other states in the Union, even some of the liberal-leaning states, tend to write off California as the "land of fruits and nuts." We wonder how people can continue to vote for the same failed ideas, politicians, and party, year after year, decade after decade. We think that California is a nice place to visit, and while we wouldn't want to live there — most of us couldn't afford it anyway — we respect the freedom of those who have the economic means to live in California. After all, the weather is beautiful, the food's great, the people are by and large friendly, and California's an excellent vacation destination, especially in January if you live in Minnesota or Wisconsin. Sure, we all wish California wasn't quite as Left-wing, wasn't quite as politically foregone, wasn't quite as woke (and therefore draconian), and wasn't quite so welcoming of illegal aliens sponging off of the state. But hey, it's California, and after we return from vacation to our blizzardly abodes, California isn't our problem anymore.
Or is it? Dennis Prager noted that last week, a mob of thugs broke into and looted a 7-11 convenience store — "young people just taking what they want." Windows shattered, thousands of dollars worth of goods stolen or destroyed. If a picture is worth a thousand words, the video is worth ten thousand, and is definitely a must-see. After the looting, according to the police, the crowd moved on to the nearby 110 freeway and proceeded to block the lanes. Why police stood by while the mob did this is a mystery to me. But Nero fiddled while Rome burned.
In 2020 the ex-convict George Floyd was arrested while apparently high on drugs and attempting to pass counterfeit currency. He died while in custody of the police. According to the toxicology report, the cause of Floyd's death could not be determined conclusively. Floyd's death sparked riots around the country, with hundreds of millions, perhaps billions, of dollars in private property destroyed, businesses and police cars burned, and general mayhem which arguably had not been seen in the United States since the 1992 Rodney King riots. Cries to "Defund the police!" rung loudly throughout American political discourse. A few municipalities such as Seattle and Minneapolis experimented with defunding or substantially reducing police. The results were an unmitigated disaster and these policies had to be rescinded for public safety's sake.
Dennis Prager argues the looting of the 7-11 convenience store resulted in large part from the message conveyed by local governments' lack of forceful response to the riots of 2020.
The acceptance by the authorities of those cities was a turning point in American history. It announced...to the entire country...that we accept looting and destruction provided it is done by the right people and for the right cause...The message has gone out that stealing is okay.There have not been any significant demonstrations in California against the looting, against the vandalism, against the destruction of business and property, either as a result of the Floyd riots or this 7-11 looting. California Republicans — for all intents and purposes an extinct political species — fear the woke mob and fear being called racists should they proffer any criticism whatsoever of barbaric behavior — the looters appear to be largely blacks and hispanics as seen in the video.
The majority of Californians have no problem with outright theft — to prove this, consider the passage in 2014 of Proposition 47, a California ballot initiative ironically called the "Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act," by a whopping 20% margin of California voters. Under Prop 47, petty theft of less than $950 in goods is treated as a nonviolent misdemeanor and is rarely, if ever, prosecuted. Predictably, retail theft in California has soared.
Civilization depends on respect for others' private property. It has been shown over and over that private property, beginning with land ownership, is indispensable to creating a free and decent society. But once respect for private property is gone, once people believe that they can simply take what does not belong to them and there will be no significant punishment, once people believe that they can destroy what isn't theirs and authorities will turn a blind eye, then we don't have civilized society — we have barbarism.
California seems largely not to care, and its police seem sadly resigned to lawless behavior — and why shouldn't they be, given the seeming lack of support among residents and pro-crime policies of people like Los Angeles County D.A. George Gascon? The majority of citizens of California – as anecdotally evidenced by my relatives who live there — believe that destruction of private property at the hands of angry mobs — eerily reminiscient of Leninist Russia — constitutes nothing new or significant, but is "just another day at the salt mines."
Indeed, voters of L.A. county had a golden opportunity to send a public safety announcement by recalling pro-criminal George Gascon, but utterly failed to do so — proponents of the recall couldn't even get enough signatures to bring the measure to a vote! 2
It is said that citizens deserve the government they vote for. We can only hope that California doesn't take the rest of America down with it.
1 Governor Arnold Schwarzenneger's brand of politics was centrist at best and at worst center-left. But at least Arnie kept the lights on; his predecessor Gray "Lights Out" Davis was shamefully recalled in part for having failed to do so.
2 To put Gascon's job on the ballot, the campaign seeking his ouster needed to gather 566,857 valid signatures by mid-July; the figure reflects 10% of the people who were eligible to vote in the election cycle when he won office in November 2020. The L.A. County registrar-recorder/county clerk's office said about 520,000 of the signatures submitted were valid. While had the recall made the ballot, Gascon might have lost his job, badly-needed change doesn't start at the ballot box — it starts with getting enough voter support to put a proposal on the ballot in the first place.