I grew up in Southern California. In the San Fernando Valley when it was more orange groves than suburban housing tracts. Sweet.
Oh, and in a staunch Republican household.
I introduced myself to politics in 1960. I watched the political conventions, the Nixon-Kennedy debates, and stayed up all night watching the election returns. I was ten years old.
When John Kennedy won, I knew the nuns at school would be happy. Kennedy was, you see, a Catholic. But my dad was an ardent Nixon supporter. Dad was a self-described “rock-ribbed Republican.” He was also a fervent Catholic. He didn’t mix Church and State apparently.
I was conflicted. Not because of religion or even political affiliation and philosophies of the candidates. I was conflicted because my dad was vigorously persuasive about why Richard Nixon should be President. But I, having watched all four debates, found there was just something I didn’t like about Nixon. Nevertheless, Nixon won the state’s Electoral votes.
I was a Republican until I reached the age of reason.
I had read the sacred Republican religious tracts: A Choice, Not an Echo by Phyllis Schlafly, Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand, The Conscience of a Conservative by Barry Goldwater, and whatever the Catholic version of The Bible is called. Both the Old and New Testaments. I liked the Old Testament better. It was racier. Lots of violence and begatting.
I campaigned door-to-door for Barry Goldwater in 1964. All this by the age of fourteen. I was politically precocious…and naive.
In retrospect, I realize I reached the age of reason on election night, 1964, when I found myself rooting (inwardly) for Lyndon Johnson. I was secretly happy that LBJ won. I didn’t dare tell my dad. See? I was precociously smart, too.
In California, the Republican Party was king throughout my childhood and well into my adult years. And the beating heart of the Grand Old Party was Orange County, CA. Home of John Wayne and “B-1 Bob” Dornan.
In any statewide election, I knew that I had to ignore the early leads Democrats put on the board and wait until the Orange County vote had been tallied.
On November 6, 2018, the Tell-Tale Heart of the Republican Party in California went into cardiac arrest. There were seven Congressional seats in Orange County up for election. On November 16, all seven were announced as a Democratic Party sweep.
Of the 55 Congressional seats California is allotted, 53 in the House of Representatives and two in the Senate, only eight House seats are held by Republicans and one of those may still be in doubt. All eight are on life support wearing a a Do Not Resuscitate toe tag.
How could this happen? What could have caused the demise of the once-vaunted, imperious Republican Party in California?
I am here to suggest an answer to this question.
But first, a little historical perspective is necessary.
In my lifetime, 1950-present, only one Democrat Presidential candidate has won the California electoral votes in the ten (10) Presidential elections from Dwight D. Eisenhower’s first election in 1952 until Bill Clinton took the state in 1992. The Republican Presidential candidate took California in nine of ten elections over the course of 66 years.
Republican strength in the state was primarily powered by Orange County voters.
The only Democrat to win the state during those years was Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964, running against Barry Goldwater who was seen by many as too hawkish, too extreme in the opening years of the Vietnam entanglement.
A Republican Presidential candidate has not won California since Bill Clinton’s first Presidential run in 1992.
But Big Red’s run in California is deeper than that.
Since 1900, California had had 19 different governors for varying lengths of terms.
Only five governors have been Democrats, three of them Browns: Edmund G. (Pat) and Jerry (twice).
Of the two remaining Dem governors, one was recalled before the end of his first term, Gray Davis.
In the 118 years since 1900, inclusive, Democrats have held the governorship for only 31 years. That’s 87 years of Republican Governorship rule.
Why is this germane? Important?
It’s important because the Governor has veto powers over all legislation passed by the State Assembly and the State Senate. It takes a two-thirds (2/3rds) vote by both chambers of the state legislature to override the Governor’s veto.
That is a very high standard to clear unless you have a supermajority in both the State Assembly and the State Senate.
When one Party has what’s referred to as a “super majority,” i.e., an elected 2/3rds majority of the same political party in both the Senate and the Assembly at the same time, it is said to be “veto proof.” Meaning, it doesn’t matter who the governor is, what Party he’s from, or what he vetoes, the legislature can override the Governor’s veto(s) and enact the legislation it has passed, anyway.
Only one California Governor has faced a veto proof legislature. Jerry Brown was the Governor. He faced a veto proof legislature in his first stint as Governor in the ’70s, and another in his second stint as Governor these past eight years.
During his first two terms that the Dems had a veto-proof majority in both chambers, they overrode the Democrat Brown’s veto three times. Twice on pay increases for public employees and once on vetoed death penalty legislation. The early Jerry Brown was clearly not a profligate spendthrift.
In the last eight years, Brown’s second term as Governor, the super majority Dems have not overridden any of Brown’s vetoes, which have been plentiful.
It is indisputable that Democrats have had Assembly and Senate majorities in California for most of the last fifty years. But few super majorities.
Ronald Reagan had Republican majorities in both chambers part of his eight years a Governor. Not super majorities.
But the Republicans have had only one majority and in only one chamber since Reagan in the ’60s.
It was Republican Senate majority in 1996. It was a slim majority, 40-39, with one seat open. However, even with a majority, the Republican Senate majority could not elect the Speaker of the Assembly it most wanted.
Outgoing Speaker, wily Willie Brown, the longest serving Speaker of the Assembly in California ever at 15 years, engineered one last coup over the powerful Republicans.
He picked off a Republican turned Independent Senator, Paul Horcher, and got him to run for Speaker. Horcher did and won due to solid Democrat support.
Horcher was promptly recalled by his voters and ousted from the Assembly.
The path was now clear for the Republicans to elect Jim Brulte as Speaker.
He was the overwhelming favorite of the Republican caucus in the Assembly. Except….except for Willie Brown.
Brown, knowing that Assembly member, Republican Doris Allen, was unhappy with the support her own party had given her in her special election campaign for a State Senate seat, convinced her to run for Assembly Speaker against Brulte.
Willie Brown then convinced all 39 Democrats in the Assembly to vote for Doris Allen. She voted for herself. That made Doris Allen the very first female Speaker of the Assembly from either party. The 40 votes were enough to give Allen the Speakership and the undying enmity of virtually all other Republicans.
The backlash by her fellow Republicans was brutal and there was a clear strain of misogyny running through it, with one Republican male, Bill Morrow (R-Oceanside), suggesting that she go get her hair done before dabbling in male politics.
Doris Allen was promptly recalled and she handed off the gavel to one of her few loyal supporters, Brian Setencich.
Willie Brown had outsmarted, outmaneuvered the Republicans once again.
This maneuver led to my favorite Paul Conrad cartoon of all time.
It features Willie Brown in a safari hunter outfit and helmet. He is in a trophy pose, standing with his long rifle perpendicular to the ground and one leg perched upon a prone dead elephant.
He has a wide, triumphant smile on his face. The words in the caption beneath the elephant were Brown’s own when he was asked by the press how he had managed to pull off his upset of Brulte.
Willie said, ” “Those white boys got taken, fair and square.” Racist phrasing, yes. But no more racist than the Republican-sponsored Term Limits initiative that had targeted Willie Brown in 1990 and was forcing him out of the State Assembly in 1996.
Willie Brown’s racial reference is important to understand within the context of the decline and death of the Republican Party in California in 2018. Optics of both racism and sexism.
The Republicans mercilessly hounded Doris Allen, the first female Speaker of the California Assembly, out of office. Women’s groups around the state, even Republican women’s groups, howled.
Willie Brown, African-American, was hated by Republicans everywhere. Willie outfoxed them and out maneuvered them at every turn. He was much smarter individually than they were collectively. He had true power. It was largely because of Willie Brown that Republicans around the state sponsored the Term Limits Initiative in 1990.
Many people in the state felt that there was a racial component to the Republican fervor for term limits, especially as regards the politicians elected from around the Los Angeles basin. In truth, there was.
Misogyny prevailed. Racism prevailed. Term Limits passed.
It was the only way the Republicans could force Willie Brown from office and the Speakership he had held for 15 years. And the power he had built up.
Due to the new Republican-sponsored Term Limits law, 1995 was to be Willie’s last year in the Assembly anyway. Shortly after Doris Allen was elected Speaker, Willie Brown resigned from the Assembly and ran for mayor of San Francisco.
Let’s not forget to put this in to the larger context of our national politics.
The so-called Republican Revolution of 1994, led by Newt Gingrich, was in full sway.
Rabid right-wing radio talk show hosts proliferated. Hordes of right-wing politicians stormed the Bastille that was Washington D. C., wielding the “Contract with America” they had signed like a shield against having to compromise on any issues because they’d signed onto Newt’s nuggets.
Anti-intellectualism and science-denying held forth. Anti-stem cell research, persecuting Bill Clinton at great expense, excoriating Hillary Clinton, and conjuring up conspiracy theories became the Republicans’ mete.
I would urge you to read Anti-Intellectualism in American Life by Richard Hofstadter. It won the Pulitzer Prize for Non-fiction in 1964. The anti-intellectualism of the Republicans in 1994, continuing through to today, is not a new phenomenon in American history. Tellingly. Hofstadter wrote a sequel to his book in 2014, America’s New Wave of Anti-Intellectualism. Hofstadter wrote his sequel in response to the rise of the Tea Party within our current Republican Party. In 1963, he wrote his Pulitzer Prize winner about that era’s Republican Party and how it mocked Adlai Stevenson in the Presidential election of 1956 for being an “egghead.” His simple thesis is that The Republican Party then, as now, appeals to its members on the basis of a “lowest common denominator criterion.”
At any rate, the Republicans of 1994 had little interest in compromising on legislation, much less implementing that which was passed. They were bitter, angry white men appealing to little-educated, angry white men.
This so-called “Republican Revolution” was the linchpin of the bitter political partisanship that plagues us, nationally, today.
By 1996, the national scene of aggressive Republican politicians had emboldened California’s Republican pols and they mimicked the barbarians at the national gates. But that, increasingly, didn’t sit well with most Californians.
The California Republicans’ mistake was they forgot who their audience was.
They forgot where the lifeblood of their Party lay.
Further, the conservative land barons of California’s Central Valley were incapable of seeing that what played well in Bakersfield, Tulare, or the Sierra foothills didn’t necessarily play well in Orange County or with other Republican suburbanites around the State.
Orange County has more voting power than the C-Valleyites and hill people combined.
Orange County is heavily suburban, educated, and reasonably well off financially.
Except for certain small pockets of the state, most Californians, Dem and Reep alike, are more genteel, better educated, and better paid than residents in the hinterlands of Alabama, Mississippi, Idaho, Texas, Georgia, Missouri, Wyoming, Alaska, and so on.
In short, most rational California voters don’t respond well to the politics of fear and divisiveness for long, but that’s the course California Republicans chose to emulate.
And that’s when it began its Bataan-like death march.
The Republican Party in California didn’t implode so much as it slowly disintegrated.
I liken it to a Union strike against an overbearing employer. For the first few days, the workers are energized and enthusiastic. But the longer the strike lasts, tedium sets in and then it becomes odious trudging the picket line.
That’s what has happened to the Republican Party in California. Jubilant in 1994 at the national election results. Energized still in 1996 when the California elections rolled around. Then tedium and ennui slowly settled in due to their diminishing power within the state.
The California Republican Party began to erode the faith and belief its constituents had in it through the series of Initiatives it sponsored from the 1970s to the present day.
We will review them a little later in this thesis.
Ironically, it was a Republican governor, Hiram Johnson, an ardent anti-Asian immigration legislator as Governor and later as U. S. Senator, who sowed the seeds of the present-day Republican’s death spiral.
Hiram was elected California Governor as a Republican but later helped found the Progressive party so he could run for Vice President as the running mate of Teddy Roosevelt on the unsuccessful Bull Moose Party ticket.
Johnson’s contribution to the Republican Party’s demise was not because of his anti-immigration stances; those merely set the model for modern Republicans. He was also an ardent isolationist, a la Resident Rump.
Rather, it was because he introduced the recall, referendum, and initiative processes to California in 1911. He also pioneered the Direct Election of Senators by the state’s citizenry. Heretofore, Senators had been elected by the State Legislature. Two years before the the 17th Amendment was ratified by the states and that matched what California had already done.
These unprecedented democracy reforms were unmatched anywhere in the country.
Johnson didn’t mean to kill his modern-day Republican Party, he only enabled it to commit seppuku (again, ironic given his anti-Japanese stances).
Today’s Republican death knell is entirely self-inflicted.
Because Republicans could not exercise impulse control over the worst impulses of their base. Nor could they control their own basest impulses when using the three direct democracy reforms Johnson introduced to California.
The Republican Party of California chose the Initiative process to wrangle by popular vote that which it could not get through the Democrat Party majority in the Legislature.
The course the California GOP chose to use through these processes was to divide the California populace against itself. Fear and loathing in California.
Whether purposeful or inadvertent, they used fear, prejudice, racism, and hate to incite their voter base. To rouse them into action.
Besides, fear and hate motivated a good part of the Republicans’ growing base in the state to vote: the less educated and less well off in the poorer or more rural parts of the state.
What the Republican Party failed to see was that many of its policies were beginning to turn off its more sophisticated constituents in suburban Orange County and other suburban areas around the state.
Most importantly, the GOP failed to note Orange County’s changing demographics. More Latino voters. More younger voters. And, very importantly, the GOP’s educational policies with regards to school funding, teacher tenure, Unions, immigrants, and teacher political action were turning Republican teachers against it.
And all surveys show that Californians like their school district’s and their children’s public school teachers. They may think that teachers in other large, urban school districts are poor or incompetent, but they love their own. And teachers and parents talk with each other.
The dirty little secret of California’s public school teachers, Union members or not, is that fully 40% of them are registered Republicans and many more Decline to State a party preference. But they are educated, middle class or better, have empathy for the downtrodden, poor, and disabled, and there are a lot of them. They are caring. That’s the main reason they went into teaching.
California’s two major teacher Unions may primarily endorse or recommend Democrat candidates, but that’s mainly due to the dearth of good ideas about education or children’s welfare from Republican candidates or Republican supported Initiatives.
From a teacher’s point of view, most “reforms” promulgated by Republican politicians are punitive or clear impediments as regards children’s learning.
Moreover, Republican Propositions affecting teachers’ welfare or working conditions are always seen as punitive or negative because, in fact, they have been.
Some 350,000 public school teachers are in the state of California.
And they care more about policies that hurt their students, especially inadequate funding, than policies that hurt themselves.
It’s not so much that teachers are high propensity voters. They are.
But that they have great staffing numbers and purely voluntary participation when it comes to phone banking, canvassing neighborhoods, leafletting shopping centers, speaking at school board meetings, and voluntarily donating political contributions to oppose or promote candidates or issues affecting education. Teachers tend to be garrulous and articulate.
The money is important, yes, but the sheer numbers of teachers and paraprofessionals in political campaigning make them the force to be reckoned with in California politics.
It’s why Dan Walters, in his plethora of columns that criticize teachers and teacher Unions, refers to the “”Powerful CTA” or PCTA.
He did that so much through the 1990s and 2000s that many thought the word Powerful was a formal part of CTA’s title.
But he blamed their power on the amount of political contributions paid to candidates by the teacher Union.
Walters is mostly wrong.
Almost all of the incumbent candidates recommended by the Powerful CTA would be re-elected without PCTA monetary campaign donations. And the Dem politicians know it.
What all politicians fear are dozens or hundreds of teachers and paraprofessionals actively campaigning against them in their own Districts. Thousands in a statewide office election.
So, how did the Republican Party alienate its long-standing Republican constituents in the State of California?
Through the initiative, referendum, and recall processes. Let’s look at how Republican/Conservative use of these democracy reforms incited culture wars among Californians and which eventually eroded the support of its rational constituents. Not overnight. But little by little. The water drip torture.
Below are the significant Ballot measures/ laws Californians have faced since 1972.
Keep in mind that a Ballot measure need not pass or fail to arouse voter fervor and antipathy toward others.
The battle itself leaves a scar.
Also keep in mind that June ballot propositions tend to favor Republican causes due to low voter turnout overall but a high propensity to vote by conservatives.
1972–July— State of California takes over as primary funder of public school districts due, primarily, to a Court decision in Serrano v Priest ruling that the main school funding system of school districts led to unconstitutional disparities, violating the equal protection clause of the State Constitution. Previously, budgets for school districts were solely decided by local school boards and funded by property taxes of district property owners. In 1972, California ranked 6th in funding per pupil in the nation.
1972–Nov.–Death Penalty passed. It re-enacted the death penalty after the Supreme Court ruled it unconstitutional. Pits Liberals v Conservatives. A moral culture war ensues between the Law and Order types and conscientious objectors who think that if people do not have the right to kill anyone, then the state should not have the right to kill anyone. Primarily conservative-favored issue.
1978–June–Prop 13 passed. Property tax limitation. Iconic today. Would eventually ruin state finances, especially public education funding. Pitted those who favor funding public services for poor or disabled against those who believe such welfare leads to becoming a Socialist state and increased taxes. At the time it was a bipartisan issue. At that time, California Public School districts were still among highest funded per pupil in the nation.
1978–Nov.–Would ban homosexual school employees from employment in public schools. Failed. This Culture war in California ensues for next five decades with respect to AIDS funding, gay marriage, LGBTQ civil rights. Conservative-favored issue in 1978. Religious- Right favored Initiative in later California elections.
1982–March 15–Wide-scale teacher layoff notices sent. Wholesale school paraprofessionals given 45 day termination notice. Public libraries reduce days and hours. Park maintenance curbed. Layoff of many other public employees. Public golf courses increase fees. The aftermath of Proposition 13.
1982–June–Prop 8 Criminal Justice. Victims Bill of Rights. Passed. A major step in enacting tougher crime laws and penalties. Almost all crime laws seen as having an increased racial tinge, targeting African-American and Latino youth, gang members or not. Prop. 8 mostly a Bipartisan issue.
1982–Nov.— Handgun registration Initiative failed. Pits those who believe gun owners should have the unfettered right to own guns against those who believe the state has the right to enact reasonable gun regulations. Conservative opposed issue. NRA funded opposition.
1984–Nov.--Voting materials in English only passed. Minority voter suppression alleged. Conservative-favored issue. Racial issue.
1986–Nov.–English official state language passed. Conservative-issue. Racial issue.
1986–Nov.–AIDS initiative failed. Would restore AIDS syndrome to communicable diseases list. Led by Lyndon LaRouche. Would lead to quarantine and job removal of suspected AIDS victims. Mandatory testing. Harassment of voters by paid signature gatherers for the Proposition. Re-introduced in 1988. Failed again. Continuing culture war issue. Conservative and Religious Right favored issue.
1987–July--Public school funding per pupil falls to 35th in nation. Pre-Proposition 13, school funding per pupil was 6th in the nation. Aftermath of Proposition 13.
1990–Nov.–Term Limits passed, aka the Get Rid of Willie Brown Act. Republican and conservative-favored issue. Racial issue. GOP state Legislature power issue.
1992–Nov.–Congressional Term Limits passed. Later ruled Unconstitutional. Republican favored issue. Attempt to limit long term, re-elected House members who were mostly Democrats. The US Constitution cannot be amended by an individual state. Silly and wasteful Proposition.
1992–Nov.--Basic Health Care Coverage failed. Regarded as leading to Socialism by conservatives. Scare issue. Conservative opposed issue. Opposition-funded special interest issue.
1992–July–Another major California budget crisis. Further aftermath of Proposition 13 in 1979. Health insurance rates skyrocket. Most public employees and public school district employees in California receive no pay increase for next five fiscal years. Health insurance rates increase dramatically each of the five years. Public school district funding per pupil falls to 47th in the nation.
1993–March 15–Thousands of teachers and paraprofessionals given layoff or termination notices by the statutory deadline date (for certificated personnel).
1993–Nov.–Prop 174 School Vouchers failed. Would provide taxpayer dollars for private and religious schools. First school voucher attempt. Would drain funding from already underfunded public school districts. Privatization v free Public Education advocates. Suburban and rural populations v urban residents. Inner city v. exurbs. White v. Black and Brown. Private Profit interests v full public school funding. Reaction to desegregation order requiring school busing to implement. Conservative favored issue.
1994–Nov.–California Proposition 187 (also known as the Save Our State ([SOS] Initiative) was a 1994 ballot initiative to establish a state-run citizenship screening system and prohibit illegal immigrants from using non-emergency health care, public education, and other services in the State of California. Would have required public school teachers to be the primary whistle-blowers on their students.
The “Republican Revolution” unfolds nationally.
The true beginning of the end of the California GOP.
Prop 187 strongly backed by Republican governor. Conservative-favored issue. White v unauthorized Mexican immigrant issue. Conservative v Latino issue.
Inflamed almost all public school teachers. Racial issue. Liberal v Conservative issue. Fear issue.
1996–Nov.–Says California must ban Affirmative Action in hiring for public jobs, applying for admission to public education institutions, or in the State contracting out work. It passed. Conservative-favored issue. Racial issue.
1998–June–Political contributions by Union Members failed. Targets Union influence, largely pro-Democrat, in election process. Specifically aimed at teacher unions and the California Teachers Association. Inflames almost all teachers, mobilizing them into action.
1998–June--English only language spoken in Public Schools passed. Conservative-favored issue. Racial issue. Fear issue. Teacher opposed issue.
2000–June–None of the Above Ballot Option failed. Angry, mostly Conservative-favored issue. A reaction to diminishing Republican power in State Legislature. In retrospect, Republicans lucky issue failed. Most who would choose None of the Above option would be angry Republican voters. Tea Party acolytes. Democrat candidates would have benefited. My opinion.
2000–Nov.–School Vouchers for state-funded Private and Religious Education failed. Teachers angered and energized once again.
2003–October–Governor recall election. Gray Davis ousted for allowing reinstatement of the temporarily suspended Vehicle License Fee as mandated by law. Arnold Schwarzenegger elected to replace Davis. The most unqualified person ever elected Governor of California. Republican-favored issue. Election of Schwarzenegger a beauty contest.
2005–Nov.–All eight ballot initiatives failed, among them such divisive issues as parental notification and waiting period for teen minor’s pregnancy; increasing probationary period for public school teachers; require public employees signed consent annually for political use of Union dues; alters school funding formula, eroding the state’s Constitutional obligation to fund the Prop. 98 minimum funding guarantee; taking decennial redistricting out of the hands of the legislature. Anti-teacher issue, anti-union issue, anti-public school funding issue, anti-Democrat control of legislature issue. All conservative-favored issues. Parental notification of teen pregnancy primarily a religious right issue.
2006–Nov.—2nd attempt at Parental notification of teen pregnancy failed. See above. More culture wars favored by conservatives. Religious issue.
2008–Nov.--3rd attempt of Parental notification of teen pregnancy. See above. Conservative-favored issue. Religious issue.
2008–Nov.–Proposition 8: Attempt to only recognize marriage between a man and a woman as valid in California. Failed. Culture war. Liberal v Conservative. Religious Right issue. Conservative-favored issue.
2008–Nov.–Redistricting “reform” narrowly passes 50.8% to 49.2%. Republican sponsored. All Republican-strong counties vote for it. Democrat-strong counties vote it down. Another attempt by Republicans to wrangle more power in the State Legislature than they can get by the ballot box.
2009–March–State Budget woes. Thousands of teachers given layoff notices. Paraprofessionals given termination notices effective at the close of the school year.
2009–May--Three more Propositions attacking state and school funding fail. Seen as anti-teacher union, anti-public education, and budget issue due to slumped economy. Budget issues due to implosion of state budget exacerbated by Proposition 13 in 1979.
2010–June–“Top Two” Open Primaries Proposition passed. Sponsored by Republicans. Now they decry it. Stated reason for Initiative was to give voters at least one moderate candidate to vote for in every legislative election rather than a perceived extreme partisan candidate from each major party in every legislative election. Applied to all state and national elected offices. Did not meet expectations of Republicans because, in many cases, two Democrats would make the final ballot to be voted on and no Republican candidate.
2010–Nov.–Allowed State Budget to be passed by a simple majority, not previous 2/3rds. Democrat favored issue.
Did not affect 2/3rds requirement to pass new or raise taxes by the legislature.
Republicans thought they would still control the purse strings for all funding requiring a tax increase.
At the beginning of this new (2019) legislative term, Republicans will no longer have the ability to deny, modify, negotiate, or hold hostage tax increases if the Dems won’t let them.
Both chambers of the legislature have Dem supermajorities and it remains to be seen if Gavin Newsom can, or is willing, to control the legislative Dems as effectively as Jerry Brown did the two times he faced supermajorities of Dems in his last two terms.
2011–Oct.–State law signed, not ballot initiative, stating all future ballot propositions had to be held in Nov. Open Election, not June Primary Election.
As mentioned above, this will favor Democrat and liberal groups on Initiatives they oppose or favor. Larger voter turnouts in November, especially in Presidential election years, tend to trend toward Democrats because there are so many more registered Democrats than registered Republicans in this state.
2012–July--California per pupil spending remains mired in 47th place. It remains, as it has since 1992, dead last among all states in providing certificated librarians, certificated counselors, and certificated nurses for its students. California also has the highest class size for public school teachers in the nation. All wrought by the aftermath of Proposition 13 in 1979.
2012–Nov.–Yet another attempt to prohibit Union payroll deductions for political contributions, candidates or issues.
The one thing that can be said about bad Conservative ideas that get voted down is that , like a bad penny, they will always turn up again, time after time. Examples: Gay civil rights. English only. School vouchers. Anti-Union measures. Anti-teacher job security. And on and on and on. Sad.
2016–Nov.–Repealed most of the earlier state Proposition mandating English only in public school classrooms. Teachers and Liberals favored repealing of this state Constitutional provision which had been in effect since 1998 Initiative.
2018–Nov.–Proposition to divide California into 3 states is pulled from the ballot by State Supreme Court pending further legal review. It would be subject to US Congressional approval.
It’s an attempt to create one Republican state for Congressional representation. Not likely since it would likely create two Democrat states as well. Conservative areas of the state have been promoting this since they elect mostly Republicans and feel that those they elect to the state legislature are not listened to and have no power in the state legislature.
(N.B., I did not list all the law and order propositions that have appeared over the last nearly 50 years. Just be advised that they became more Draconian and inflexible, and mostly targeted inner city youth. They all passed. I also did not list all the tax propositions that would have further choked off state revenues, further exacerbating the State’s inability to fund services for state residents or necessitate cuts in funding for current programs. Almost all were defeated, including one this past November 6. One that passed, disguised as a gasoline tax to relieve traffic congestion, Proposition 111, had a formula to reduce the minimum funding level guaranteed for school districts by Proposition 98.)
So, what are we to conclude by all this data?
It can be likened to the different policies the colonizing countries had when they colonized the New World.
The English chose exclusion and extermination. The Spanish and Portuguese chose acculturation.
The California GOP emulated the English. Exclusion and ejection.
The California GOP decided its enemies were:
- Latino immigrants (legal or not);
- non-English speakers;
- Public employees;
- Public employee Unions;
- pensions earned by public employees and teachers;
- gays who wanted the same civil rights as all other citizens;
- people who receive welfare or other public benefits because they were poor or disabled;
- majority rule;
- Public schools;
- all tax or fee increases, regardless of merit;
- Proposition 98 and school funding;
- Affirmative Action
- Women’s right to choose;
- defined benefit retirement plans
- Death penalty abolitionists;
- Science and climate change believers
- Jerry Brown
- Willie Brown (no relation);
- Changing demographics of California
Now, that’s an Enemies List of which Richard Nixon would be proud.
If you go back and peruse the list of Initiatives and the Enemies List of California conservatives and their acolytes, the Republican Party, some conclusions are inescapable.
Since 1970, the Democratic Party and Liberals in general, have been the Party which has supported Initiatives that were positive, people and child centered, and environment friendly. The Party of optimism and, yes, Hope. The Party that elected over one hundred women to Congress nationally and has women in very powerful positions therein. Cf. Nancy Pelosi.
During that same period, the Republican Party has supported tax Initiatives sought to reduce or eliminate State revenue, crippling the State’s ability to fund or expand people-oriented services; pushed for more stringent criminal laws that would mostly apply to crimes committed by inner city youth; eliminate vital women’s rights; push a Religious Right social agenda; promote business interests at the expense of workers’ retirement security and public education funding (401K retirement pensions replacing defined benefit retirement plans; vouchers to subsidize private or religious schools or sponsoring for-profit charter schools), and try to push Latino laborers and their families out of California.
Since 1970, the Republican Party has been the Party of pessimism about the future, negativism, anti-intellectualism, fiscal calamity, impending doom and gloom, and fear. They have become Agnew’s “nattering nabobs of negativism.”
It’s easy to see which Party would appear more appealing, over time, to college-educated, comfortably well off, suburbanites.
Like in Orange County, California.
Support for Republican/Conservative issues and the candidates who promulgated them, slowly eroded over a 30-year period.
But human nature grows tired of long term negativity.
Moreover, Orange County is still a Republican stronghold…locally. All five current elected Orange County Supervisor seats are held by Republicans. Hillary Clinton won the popular vote in Orange County in the 2016 elections against Donald Trump, the first Democrat Presidential candidate since Franklin Roosevelt in 1936 to do so.
That should have been a harbinger of impending political apostasy by usually dependable Republican and Decline to State voters, for the Republican Party both in California and nationally.
But the GOP didn’t see it coming.
It found out on November 6, 2018, both statewide and nationally.
The “Blue Wave,” described by television commentators as turning out to be only a ripple on election night, turned into a tsunami a week later as all the votes were tallied around the country, especially in California as a whole and in Orange County in particular.
The drip by drip water torture resulting in the slow erosion of faith in Republican candidates by their usual supporters from 1996 through 2016 turned into a water boarding in November 2018 their supporters could not withstand. The total collapse of the Republican Party in Orange County was sudden, unexpected, and complete.
And you can’t live when your heart stops beating.
But why now? Why not a more gradual, continuing erosion? Orange County is critical to the survival of the Republican Party in statewide politics. All efforts to prolong its vitality should have been made by the State and National Republican organizations.
But, I would submit, it would not have made any difference. For three reasons.
- The faith of Republican Party adherents had been severely weakened by national and state Reep Parties overreaching into social and cultural issues over the course of 22 years. They got taken out of their comfort zone.
- The Trump Factor. His conduct in office over the last (nearly) two years has been so embarrassing, it’s difficult for all but the most ardent Deplorables to continue to believe in him, much less support him.
But the last month before the midterm elections, Trump’s histrionics sealed the deal for many Orange County Republicans. Caravans, a thousand miles away, an imminent threat? Five thousand army troops sent, immediately, to guard the border against an a slow moving “invasion” of mostly women and children seeking asylum in the U. S. in accordance with our own country’s laws?
They couldn’t look into the mirror without asking themselves, “Is this the Party in which my father, my father’s father, and my great grandfather believed? I can’t support any local politician who has supported, and continues to blindly support, this buffoon.”
And they didn’t.
Educated suburbanite women and many educated, suburbanite men dropped Trump like a hot KFC drumstick.
They either didn’t vote or voted Libertarian.
Increased voter participation by new voters and minority voters helped dump the Orange County incumbent and non-incumbent Republican candidates for the House of Representatives.
This conjecture for the role the Trump Factor played in the Dems winning House members, Senators, Governors and over a thousand state legislator seats around the country has been stated widely so it’s probably not new to you.
But, my last reason is not old to you or anyone else. You heard it here first. And maybe solely.
- Jerry Brown Governor, Toni Atkins, President Pro Tem of the California State Senate, Kevin DeLeón, former President Pro Tem of the California State Senate, and Anthony Rendon, Speaker of the California State Assembly. Brown’s success as Governor has been complete. But it would have been very difficult without the cooperation and inclusion of the three most powerful, reasonable Democrat leaders in the State Legislature.
Jerry Brown’s last two terms and his ability to control Democrat majorities, especially Democrat supermajorities, has calmed Republican fears of unbridled tax increases, profligate spending by the legislature, and impending state bankruptcy feared by one party rule.
For eight years the State has had State Budget peace. No late budgets. No bitter epithets hurled by each side at the other. No state IOU’s to workers expecting paychecks, no state vendors getting stiffed. No State worker furloughs.
Let’s call it the Pax Democrita.
While realistic state balanced budgets were passed on time, the nearly bankrupt State of California recovered from the brink of its financial abyss under Arnold Schwarzenegger, spent within its means, and built a very tidy surplus to fund unexpected, unbudgeted, contingencies or to soften the blow of the next national economic downturn.
Brown was able, with the help of DeLeón, Atkins, and Rendon, to get the citizens of California to pass one tax increase that helped with the State’s economic recovery. It was to expire next January but the voters, who approved that tax increase, gladly extended the tax indefinitely this past November 6, 2018.
Many Republicans’ fears were assuaged by the State’s economic recovery and the relative political harmony therein.
“Maybe,” many thought, “one-Party rule is not so bad if it’s properly led.”
It was clear to many that one-Party rule at the national level was not working for anyone except corporations and the Trump business interests.
Maybe we need a check on the unbridled excesses of this runaway, embarrassing President who thinks he’s above the law and thinks he received a mandate to govern unilaterally and imperiously.
A President who insults our traditional allies and gives succor to some of our long-time enemies and other countries being ruled by unfathomable despots. North Korea. Russia. Saudi Arabia.
A President who has stripped the United States of the moral authority in the world it has held since the 1950s by condoning the killing of a journalist, an American resident with two children who were born American citizens and are still American citizens, for filthy lucre under the fatuous guise of America First.
“Maybe we need to elect more Democrats to Congress to check this guy.”
And Orange County voters stunned the nation and did just that. The large influx of first time legal Latino voters and young voters greatly aided that accomplishment.
How do you think the current California governance model would play out at the National level?
It couldn’t get any worse in D. C. than it is now and was for the last six years of President Obama’s legitimate Presidency when Republicans controlled both the Senate and the house of Representatives?
It hasn’t gotten any better with a Republican President added to the two Republican legislative houses. A complete sweep of all elected offices.
Theoretically, Republicans were given untrammeled power to do as they wished.
But they forgot the monster they created through their extremism.
The more extreme Republican representatives elected by the so-called Tea Party. The Freedom Caucus within the national Republican Party.
In the last two years, they have become the Congressional Democrats best allies, refusing to sign onto moderate Republican healthcare and budget bills until the bills suited their more extreme ideas.
Maybe one-Party rule is not meant for angry white men and a sprinkling of angry white women.
Perhaps the Republican Party in California should consider the words of the Bard of Avon in his play Julius Caesar. Cassius speaking with Brutus: (my paraphrasing)
“The fault, dear GOP, lies not in your stars
But in yourselves, that you are underlings.”
(Act I, Scene III).