Michael Barone had a great post yesterday analyzing the results of California’s primary election of last week. What those outside of California probably don’t realize is that California had two propositions (you know, those crazy relics of the Progressive era that have attempted to re-introduce direct democracy and made our state legislature even more unaccountable for their actions--but I digress) that went down to defeat. They were huge defeats for liberal Democrats. The first would have created universal preschool for all 4 year-olds by placing a special tax on individuals making over $400 K and couples making over $800 K. The second was a bond measure for public libraries. These are issues that warm the hearts of most liberals and, because the Democrats had a primary for Governor, more Democrats showed up for this election than Republicans. Early polls in the election season showed the first initiative way ahead. But both propositions were soundly defeated. Why?
Could it be that people--even your average liberals--are becoming skeptical about the ability of government to run programs like these? Phil Angelides, the liberal Democrat who won the primary (barely) against former E-Bay executive Steve Westly probably sealed the deal for Arnold in November. Westly’s ads attacked Angelides for his liberal spending and taxing--but made a case for his own environmentalist bonafides. Granted, Westly had big dollars to wage his fight against Angelides, but he almost pulled it off and that’s significant.
Barone argues that:
Liberal Democrats like to believe that government programs can improve people’s lives and that it’s a good idea to redistribute through taxes money from the rich to the presumably less well off. But in practice the redistribution they support turns out to be from the pockets of taxpayers generally to public employee unions and thence to the Democratic Party. In California this has been facilitated because a lot of affluent people in the Los Angeles and San Francisco metro areas are happy to vote for Democrats because of their liberal stands on lifestyle issues like abortion and because they are so well off that they don’t mind paying more in taxes.
In other words, many of our metropolitain liberals don’t mind paying higher taxes for these stupid programs because they are already so rich they don’t feel it and they don’t have to use the public facilities (like schools) anyway. They cheerfully pay the taxes for us peasants so that they can get support for their pet social issues. He might also have added that by paying these taxes such liberals also buy their way out of actually having to think about solutions to social problems that might work--like hearkening back to social norms that encourage hard work, industry, and public morality (and thereby cut against their pet social issues). But I digress again . . .