Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

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California Theming

In the unlikely event there are NLT readers still standing who haven't read enough on California's governmental train wreck, my latest essay for the Claremont Review of Books adds to the body of literature on this dismal subject.  The year-end compilation of NLT bloggers on California's troubles includes this National Review article by Steve, and my piece in City Journal.  Police Navidad!

Discussions - 9 Comments

A fine article but one question. You write that the liberal interests are able to ride out expressions of right-leaning populism (like opposition to tax increases, the gay marriage vote ect.), but how much of that is because a significant fraction of those who vote for a right-leaning proposition, would not really consider voting for a conservative Republican state legislator, or Senator?

This dynamic keeps the Democratic party the dominant party by making sure that voters with at least SOME right-leaning inclination reliably for left of center politicians and allows the liberal political coalition to ride out the periodic eruptions of right-leaning populism. A California conservatism that hopes to actually become a governing majority will have to come to grips with the social (and I don't mean abortion ect.) reasons why many people who have at least partly conservative opinions would not vote for a conservative candidates.

Yeah I know some of the above reads like it was translated from some other language. Teach me not to proofread.

Pete ... yes, agree 100%. I know far too many people who live conservative principles yet vote Democrat. Why is that? Is that because Republicans have repelled them, or Democrats have fooled them?

Rotten boroughs. The districts guarantee liberal Democratic majorities, intensified by the census count including illegal immigrants. This allows/forces the liberals to be even more liberal, subject as they are to ethnic/racial pressures, unions, feminist groups, etc.

Didn't the redistricting initiative pass? Will it make a difference?

In his first popular book Robert Bork tells the story about being approached in a restaurant by a stranger, who thanked him for his role as a court-appointed master in making such a favorable apportionment to the Democrats. The stranger was the then-Chairman of the Dem Party of Connecticut, Bailey (I think), who went on to be national DNC Chairman. So anything can happen.

Redistricting can only help so much in a state with a nonwhite majority in which African Americans vote Democratic by 4 to 1 or more and Latinos by 2 to 1 or more. Redistricting can only do so much to mitigate that conservative Republican voting strength is segregated to some predominately white suburbs.

A major problem is the identification of GOP conservatism with white suburban identity politics. This partially explains the dynamic of many voters voting (sometimes) right on propositions but consistently for candidates of the Democratic left for office. This perception of conservative Republicanism as white identity politics also means that the only kind of Republican that is viable in statewide races (in the post 1994 period) is the kind that distances themselves from the toxic conservative Republican brand. The result is that liberal Democrats are replaced by liberal Republicans.

This leads to all kinds of perversities. Voters who cast right leaning votes on propositions live in neighborhoods where the center-right party virtually does not exist and the more conservative members of that party are virtually natural enemies of the community. We also have a California electorate that is, on issues like taxes, spending, and gay marriage, to the right of the Republican governor.

But non-white candidates are rarely successful statewide. In fact, it's hard to think of an example and easy to think of counterexamples: Tom Bradley, for one. Yet, black and Latino voters provided a conservative majority on Prop 8.

I agree that the numbers are with the Dems, though less blatant gerrymandering might yield Reps a few more seats.

Ken, I'm not sure that the failure of Democrat nonwhites to win any of California's big three statewide offices (senator or governor) really gets to the root of GOP conservatives' problems with California's nonwhite voters. I am more concerned that it seems like many voters who voted for lower taxes and lower spending and against gay marriage on propositions, would not vote for Dan Lungren over Barbara Boxer.

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