Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns


California: Object Lesson in What Happens When Wish Becomes Father of Thought

It's not for nothing that most Ohioans (and much of the rest of the country) are prone to joke that California is the land of "fruits and nuts."  Yes, we do grow 'em out here; both literally and figuratively.  The typical Californian response to such insults, however, has been to brush them off as a kind of jealousy.  (Call me when you're snowed in this winter and I'm out picking oranges in my backyard paradise or surfing at the beach . . .)  There's been a kind of amazing will--not to power, exactly, but more to seek out golden dreams--and that has always pushed this state to the forefront of the American imagination.  It's also not for nothing that California is called the "golden state" . . . and it's not only because of our beautiful sunsets or the 1849 gold rush.  The optimism that has driven us is characteristically American.  Inspiring.  Energizing.  Youthful.  Oh . . . and, sometimes, terribly naive.

Our own Bill Voegeli (like me, a California transplant . . . though that hardly distinguishes us out here) gives this buoyant approach to California's current prospects a sober and thoughtful assessment in the most recent edition of The City Journal.   He, like many other observers of our troubles, does not see many reasons for optimism.  Time magazine, however, clings to the hopes and wishes of a former era without, apparently, grasping that hope has to be backed by effort.  A wish is not a thought.  Hope is not a plan.  In ignoring the facts before us, California may be more than an object lesson in what happens when a state allows hope to engulf it in the place of effort.  It may be--as it always has been--an early indicator of where we are heading as a nation. 

Let us do more than hope not.  As Winston Churchill famously said at the close of his masterful work The Gathering Storm, "Facts are better than dreams." 
Categories > Politics

Discussions - 10 Comments

California has no chance by itself, and all wise people would do well to abandon it.

I know I'm a bore on this topic (and maybe others too), but to what extent are the intractability of California's problems the result of the failure of California's conservative Republicanism to make inroads among nonwhites? The divorce of California's African Americans and Latinos from conservative Republicanism creates a pro-social democratic dynamic in which elections are contested between liberal Democrats and liberal Republicans, with conservative Republicans as a marginalized suburban-based minority - and not even dominant in many suburbs. The results of the intiatives (like on gay marriage or taxes) indicates that there is a potential audience for conservative policies, but I suspect that many of the people who voted "right" on the initiatives would be creeped out at the thought of voting for someone identified as a conservative Republican.

The failure of California's conservative Republicans at demographic coalition building is having profound consequences and there is no easy way out of the hole that I can see and should be a warning to conservatives on a national level.

I will freely admit I do not know the history of how things came to be, but one problem is that at the same time that these non-white groups, as they have been termed, want to vote right on certain things, they also want certain things that are anathema to conservatives. Now, I can understand why these groups would want these things--not approve, but understand. They have not been treated with kid gloves in the past--none of them. It is only human and natural for that past treatment to color today. But the problem, of course, is that two wrongs do not make a right.

Conservatives cannot reach out to these groups via policy prescriptions that would betray their core beliefs, and these groups can not yet overcome the dead weight of the past on their souls. And so this will continue.

Conservatives can do nothing--except show how the values of liberty and limited government with a strict view of the rule of law can go far to prevent what happened to these groups from happening again. And these groups, at the end of the day, are going to have decide which of the parts of the hyphenated group name is more important.

I found this message from the govenor to less than reassuring.

Pete is exactly right.

Did Scanlon miss his cue? Does he not realize he can drag out some nasty Churchill quotes right now???

I didn't even finish reading this blog-post (eyes had glazed over from boredom), so didn't get to the point of considering a comment. I'll leave the Churchill quoting to you this time, Fyodor.

Um, I'm not a regular reader here, but is your community always this comfortable with the casual, joking use of derogatory terms?

Dear You,

Even your wiki reference says that the term predates the use as gay slang. That phrase was being used when I was a child (say 45 years ago) about California, in the same joking way.

Of course, you are welcome to join the ranks of the thought police in the comment section here. They need all the help they can get, being a volunteer force, so far.

Read your Orwell, amatuer spies are the most dangerous. Although, I don't know if the cyber bullying act has been signed into law yet so he may just be doing a test run.

Leave a Comment

* denotes a required field

No TrackBacks
TrackBack URL:

Warning: include(/srv/users/prod-php-nltashbrook/apps/prod-php-nltashbrook/public/sd/nlt-blog/_includes/promo-main.php): failed to open stream: No such file or directory in /srv/users/prod-php-nltashbrook/apps/prod-php-nltashbrook/public/2009/10/california-object-lesson-in-what-happens-when-wish-becomes-father-of-thought.php on line 659

Warning: include(): Failed opening '/srv/users/prod-php-nltashbrook/apps/prod-php-nltashbrook/public/sd/nlt-blog/_includes/promo-main.php' for inclusion (include_path='.:/opt/sp/php7.2/lib/php') in /srv/users/prod-php-nltashbrook/apps/prod-php-nltashbrook/public/2009/10/california-object-lesson-in-what-happens-when-wish-becomes-father-of-thought.php on line 659