the imaginative conservative log
California Dreamin’: The Problem of a Once-Great State
by Bruce Frohnen
California’s coastal cities have not only grown, but they have attracted cultural leftists from the world over, and in vast numbers, who have made a point of disenfranchising the “deplorables” in their midst…
california dreamin flag bruce frohnenIn the middle of winter, as the ice grows thick in Ohio, I begin to miss my youth in California. Then again, I always miss California—even when I am there.
This is not to say that nothing of the California of ranches, farms, and vast, beautiful open spaces exists any longer. The California that brought Ronald Reagan to America has not disappeared. It has merely been overwhelmed in terms of power, influence, and publicity by coastal cities mired in ideology, self-indulgence and an atmosphere best described as simply “smug.” Still, on the byways in the foothills of the Sierra Mountains, in the agricultural heartland of the Central Valley, and scattered throughout the central part of the state where cattle are still raised, one can find as many marks of conservative, Christian America as in any Red state. The problem is not just that the coastal cities grown, but that they have attracted cultural leftists from the world over, and in vast numbers. And those cultural leftists, as good leftists, have made a point of disenfranchising the “deplorables” in their midst.
This is why we have heard in recent weeks about a movement toward secession in California, and why there has been much talk of a numerical majority of Americans supporting Hillary Clinton in the last general election. Californians of the leftists bent are accustomed, even more than your typical New York intellectual, of considering themselves not only better and smarter than everyone else, but also entitled to unending obedience to their ideological viewpoint—a viewpoint so utterly unquestioned that the very idea of its being superseded causes mass hysteria. Better by far, then, to leave the bad people behind than to allow a mere “process” of government by consent to rule; a result that the virtuous find unseemly is by definition illegitimate.
As to the other claim of illegitimacy, accepting for argument’s sake that millions more people who were genuinely eligible to vote did in fact vote for Hillary Clinton, the result is not an illegitimate election by any reasonable standard. Mrs. Clinton’s advantage in the popular vote can be chalked up to voter suppression on the West Coast. Before anyone accuses me of sounding like some bitter Democrat who denies the legitimacy of our electoral process, I hasten to add that the voter suppression was not illegal. Rather, it was the natural consequence of demographics (ingress of rootless lefties, emigration of normal Americans to places like Texas) and of political machinations entirely within the letter of the law.
California has been a one-party state for several decades, now. As a result, the California Democratic Party holds metaphorically absolute power. And, as we know, absolute power corrupts absolutely. In the case of California it has brought a combination of extreme policies in areas like the environment, transportation, welfare, immigration, and business regulation. It also has brought a determination on the part of Democratic Party leaders not to allow that power to be taken away. Ever. In even small matters.
For example, the California jungle primaries pit candidates of any and all parties against one another, with the top two vote-getters going on to the general election. This is a splendid way to minimize the opportunities for the second (Republican) parties’ candidates to ever get on the November ballot—as happened this past November in Senate and numerous other elections. It helps assure the continued primacy of Democrats not only in the state legislature, but also in California’s national delegation. It also does a good job of convincing Republicans not to bother voting, their reasonable choices already having been weeded out as “too extreme.”
Of course, one might say that California Republicans should have gone to the polls regardless of their options in “lesser” races if they really wanted to vote for a Republican (or against a Democratic) President. But this is to ignore human nature. What is more, there is a historic trend at work, here, rooted in geography. In 1980 Jimmy Carter did great damage to his own “brand” and his own party (which lost numerous races it otherwise might have won). How? He conceded to Ronald Reagan before the polls had even closed on the West Coast. Even without the help of a Jimmy Carter, the reality of time zones and press coverage often means that West Coast votes for President do not matter much, especially now that California, Washington, and Oregon can safely be assumed to vote Democrat. Under such circumstances, who can blame California Republicans for staying home on election day? To keep showing up to cast what one knows is a losing vote or series of votes seems downright crazy at a certain point.
One hopes that the hardcore leftist tantrums against the Electoral College will subside. Perhaps the perpetrators will realize that, whatever they may think today, that institution may save them from a worse fate someday. Perhaps they will wake up to the fact that, whatever they may think about constitutional government, we still have something of that form of government, which makes it difficult to ram through a constitutional amendment. After all, the amendment process is specifically intended to prevent adoption of proposals that command less than widespread support approaching the level of consensus.
While this false “crisis” will pass, the problem of California persists. That state wields massively outsized influence on America. It is easy to overlook this influence because ordinary Americans are accustomed to dismissing the hard-left policies implemented in that state and recommended by its Washington representatives (outside some terrific conservative members of Congress from rural areas and some southern suburbs). But tech money, garnered without employing significant numbers of Americans by people convinced of their own brilliance and virtue, combines with cultural rot spewing forth from a Hollywood inhabited by overgrown children determined to teach science, biology, and morality to people far more educated and virtuous than themselves. And this combination has pushed American politics to the left for several decades now. When one adds to this the tremendous economic power of a state that can withhold its vast markets from various companies unless they bow to its regulatory demands, the result is irrational, unchecked power in the hands of people who have shown they cannot wield it with wisdom or common sense.
This last problem, which imposes vast costs on the rest of us through increased prices for countless consumer and durable goods, is too often overlooked. Yet it is a problem the federal government actually could address in some limited fashion. Washington regulators could provide safe harbors for companies meeting national standards. Even better, it might reduce federal regulations to such an extent that the extra, California-only regulatory costs would be recalculated. Then perhaps “California only” and even “not in California” products might become much more common.
As to the rest, one can only hope that a new administration will cease subsidizing businesses like hi-tech and entertainment that make vast sums of money without employing many people. The result of tax breaks for Hollywood, for example, simply put money in the pockets of people pushing policies, opinions, and products inimical to our way of life. Immigration policies that encourage importation of virtual indentured servants are merely the most obvious policies that need to be ended. Thank goodness this last policy is at the top of the list of promises from this administration.
It is highly unlikely that California will formally secede from the Union. Then again, the far left coast seceded from our culture long ago. One only wishes they would let the inland populations of their own little societies live in peace and with some modicum of self-government. The people of the foothills in California, and pretty much everywhere outside Seattle and Portland in Washington and Oregon deserve better, as does the rest of America.
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